Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Meal Church

How are churches these days like Happy Meals?

Somewhere along the way churches ceased being living communities of people of faith and became just another product trying to be sold. Today, issues like brand, marketing, focus groups, and soft launches are more a part of church plants than common belief and sharing life. So, much like a Happy Meal, many churches today are all about the appealing, relevant packaging. They produce messages targeted at getting the most people in the building and not causing any controversy or backlash. And you have to have multiple programs that people can choose like the toy that is really what the consumer is looking for, forget the food.

Much like the Happy Meal “food” that can sit on a shelf for years and not rot, many churches market a message that is just barely truth. Remove and hard to digest material that might challenge people or send them to a competitor. Turn it into a simple jingle or pneumonic phrase that can be repeated ad nauseum without being perverted or changed by individual thought or application. Sure, it won’t grow or impact anyone really, but at least it won’t deteriorate or rot if exposed to a bad environment.

By contrast, real community will produce nutritious interaction. It will build people up into strong, well developed individuals. The reward in real community will not be a flashy package and a fun toy, but great, authentic experiences and relationships.

Sure, real community may have a shelf life. But since it also is alive and reproducing that life-cycle will multiply and grow before reaching its natural end. Isn’t that more appealing than a dead, stale building that is static and unchanging well past its “sell by” date?

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