Fast food church

http://youtu.be/n4QFKS4LzS4

In the 1950s two brothers were running a car-hop restaurant inSan BernardinoCA.  They considered how to cut cost in running that type of restaurant.  They experimented with a simplified menu, streamlined the food preparation process, focused on more inexpensive food, and got rid of the servers on roller skates.  The McDonald brothers became successful.

A salesman Ray Kroc, who sold milk-shake mixers, wondered why McDonald’s restaurant had purchased eight mixers as opposed to the normal one or two most customers purchased.   He quickly saw the potential to take what he was seeing nationwide.  He bought the rights to the franchise and we all know the rest of the story.  Many others copied the fast-food model in various forms and the fast-food industry that now feeds about 25 percent of America each day.    The world can eat three meals a day with speed, service, and somewhat appealing taste.  The additional creation of the drive thru-window now makes the quick eating process part of the driving experience.

Both of these things have served to usher in a whole age that is characterized by a fast pace of life we all live everyday. There are great demands in culture today in which efficiency and production are highly sought after at break neck speed.  It is a fast food way of life.

The sad thing is that this way of life also affects our spirituality and approach to church.  Many people treat God and the church in the same way you treat the fast food restaurant.  God is like the voice that comes through the speaker at the drive-thru.  Instead of a relational way of life in which we walk with God or sit in His presence we simply “drive-thru” and make our request.

Many people are content to “drive thru” when they have a pressing need, financial or emotional problem, physical problems, or when they need to seek His will.  God is simply one who works in a spiritual service industry in which He meets our needs and provides spiritual products.  Even the Bible becomes a menu to provide quick answers for our problems or desires.

This is also the mentality towards church.  Leaders now find themselves under pressure to meet the “felt needs” of people who are looking for a drive-thru spiritual experience.  People are spiritual customers looking for the quickest solution at the lowest price/commitment.  If one church doesn’t have it you can always find another drive-thru franchise down the street.  It is a fast food consumer church mentality in which people want a quick religion to improve their life.  In other words “what is in it for me” mentalities cause low cost, prepackaged words from God with a limited time commitment and non intrusive programs to be the norm in the church world today.

We have been shaped by the fast-food life causing the church to follow suite.  The church tries to attract customers by offering a full menu of seeker friendly low cost programs that will cause a line of customers to come to their drive thru.

In Western societies, churches have shifted their focus from God to how God serves and meets our needs. Jesus Christ has been packaged as a choice in the spiritual food court used to meet the private needs of individuals. The result is a debased, compromised, sterilized Christianity, which misrepresents the Gospel.

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Alternatives to the modern educational ideas

Recently we had a grandparent get up on Sunday Morning and give praise to God for our staff and how our church school positively influenced his grandchildren.  His grandchildren had to relocate to Arizona and had just started public school.  Our school was a challenge for them academically  but they did well.  When they enrolled in public school they were way ahead of the other students.   Math was so easy for his grandson that he was quickly bored.  The granddaughter was immediately put in a position of helping tutor other students.  He realized afresh the quality education they had gotten in our school and encouraged the teachers and staff to keep going.

We have taken a turn over the last few years towards an emphasis in Classical Education.  On of the foremost Christian thinkers and cultural apologist in our nation today is Charles Colson.  This week Colson released an audio and a short video in praise of Classical Education as an alternative to the breakdown in modern educational ideas.  You will like it.

Try to listen to the audio first at the following

 

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The erosion of covenant is destroying everything

The great historian Edward Gibbon wrote a classic study “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” In it he cites five primary causes of for the dissolution of that once powerful society. The reasons, collapse of the home, especially through divorce; economic upheaval; obsession with sex and pleasure seeking; massive military buildup; and the decay of religion from spiritual vitality to empty formality were all cited as bringing history’s mightiest empire to its knees. We can look around us and see signposts that indicate we are traveling in a similar direction.

The more I look around at all the upheaval going on in the nation I see many trends that have contributed to the current meltdown. While I do not want to be too simplistic about the cause, there is one thing that tends to bleed over into many things, it is a breakdown of trust. From a Biblical perspective trust is something that flows out of the idea of covenant.

The apostle Paul describes the condition of the last days and one of the things that jumps out at me is the breakdown of covenant. Paul indicates that people will not enter into covenant, or be persuaded to enter into or uphold it. 2Ti 3:1-5 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. (2) For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) unloving, irreconcilable (KJV Trucebreakerswithout a treaty or covenant, they cannot be persuaded to enter into a covenant).

A covenant is a solemn agreement to engage in or refrain from specific actions and a pledge to walk in certain ways towards others. The word obviously has religious origins and provides the foundation of trust upon which most of human society operates.

A revealing book

There was a book recently released called “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.”
It was written by conservative commentator Mark Steyn. I read a review of the book and while I may not agree with all the conclusions, it has some good points.

In the first chapter, Steyn penned something very revealing. He identified the source of our economic and governmental woes, “When government spends on the scale Washington’s got used to, that’s not a spending crisis, it’s a moral one. . . It’s not just about balancing the books, but about balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural, and ultimately, moral questions. Credit depends on trust, and trust pre-supposes responsibility (Doug “trust and responsibility are covenant ideas” ). So, if you have a credit boom in an age that has all but abolished personal responsibility (Doug  a covenant idea”), it’s not hard to figure how it’s going to end.”

Our problems point to a breakdown of the ethic of covenant

The current economic mess is really the result of a foundational problem. Obviously if things do not change, we keep spending money we don’t have, and we keep placing personal interest above the common good then we are doomed as a nation.

America’s recent credit downgrade was Standard & Poor’s opinion on the general creditworthiness (reliability to repay what is owed, again a covenant idea) of what we have agreed to pay back. What they were saying is that they don’t feel America is as reliable as it has been in the past to pay back debt. Again, covenant carries with it the idea of reliability.

This is a breakdown of trust which is the moral drifting from the idea of covenant. In every arena of our culture, covenant is breaking down. The mortgage crisis was caused by people receiving mortgages who were not creditworthy to repay them. The large number of people who simply walked away from their home obligations (covenant) is again a breakdown of the ethic of covenant. It didn’t matter to them that they signed an agreement (covenant), they simply broke the agreement and abandoned their home. It is similar to what couples do when they abandon a marriage.

This really is a moral issue. Because we have drifted farther away from God, and He is the origin of the idea of covenant, we naturally see more of a breakdown of covenant. Why is this so? Well the thing that causes people to break covenant is when their selfish desires go against their covenant responsibility. They follow their perceived self interest instead of what they agreed to. If they think it is too painful to fulfill their covenant responsibility then they break it (the reason of most divorces). Where the ethic of covenant? People today hardly give it a second thought when they choose directions of self interest that break covenant responsibilities.

When we serve the covenant keeping God, He will turn us away from self interest and turn us to the higher moral ethic of covenant. The psalmist describes people who walk with God. They will walk in covenant commitments even to the point that it may hurt them personally. The moral ethic of covenant is greater than personal hurt. This is the fabric of the Kingdom and the foundation of covenant. At the risk of sounding too simplistic, the answer to the breakdown of covenant truly is a return to the covenant keeping God.

Psa 15:1-4 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? (2) He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, And speaks truth in his heart. (3) He does not slander with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor takes up a reproach against his friend; (4) In whose eyes a reprobate is despised, But who honors those who fear the LORD; He swears to his own hurt and does not change

The church should be leading the way in “salting” our society with covenant. Is the church pointing the way towards what it means to walk in covenant  or are we being swept away by the “course of this world?”   May we see reformation in the House of God in the return to the ethic of covenant.

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