For those of you who do not know, In-N-Out Burger is the best burger place on earth. I know that’s my opinion, but I’m not alone. Unfortunately for my fellow East Coasters, it’s located primarily in California. Believe me when I say it is a must visit for anyone traveling anywhere near any one of them.
I don’t know that I have ever experienced a fast food restaurant quite like it! It seems as if In-N-Out is always full at whatever time one happens to stop by. Oddly, no one seems to mind. It’s almost as if the group consciousness somehow agrees that it’s going to be worth the wait. And it always is. Always.
Here’s what I have observed visiting In-N-Out:
People typically don’t revisit restaurants unless they like the food. In-N-Out Burger insists upon using the best ingredients in everything they make. The vegetables are locally grown and delivered promptly to each respective store. The potatoes are cut moments before they’re cooked and, honestly, I’ve never sampled a burger there that wasn’t the epitome of freshness. Predictably excellent quality food assures a steady stream of hungry customers.
I wonder if the same thing could be said about our churches. Do people return hungrily for the predictably quality food? Are the sermons and Bible studies freshly prepared, enthusiastically served, and eagerly consumed? Are the partakers satisfied to the extent that they would encourage their friends to eat there as well?
In-N-Out Burger advertises an incredibly simple menu. Simply stated, they do what they do best. Period. You won’t see chicken or tacos on the menu. Nor will you see elaborate playscapes or slick new advertising campaigns for the latest promotional item. Nope, it’s pretty much burgers, fries, and shakes. They do that well, and they do that exclusively.
Some churches have lost their way. The early church maintained a simple menu: Bible teaching/preaching; prayer; genuine fellowship (centered on the person of Christ); sincere unity around the Lord’s table; and collaborative effort to reach a lost world around them. If your church’s jam-packed schedules and multiplicity of programs do not find context within a simple message like this, perhaps it’s time to refocus.
The next time you have an opportunity to visit an In-N-Out, take a look behind the counter and watch the employees. It’ll be easy to do because there are no barriers to hide any part of the preparation. White uniformed, happy, hard-working employees can be seen buzzing about like an organized hive preparing, serving, grilling, cleaning, and smiling. Check out the operation from drive thru and you’ll encounter the same phenomenon, easily gazing through the large windows. It’s almost as if they want you to watch. “We are the real deal on both sides of the counter,” they seem to say.
How transparent is your church? When people stop to look closely, is there an openness on the part of leadership to reveal what’s behind the scenes? Too often, visitors to our churches encounter a bright and cheerful front door, only to find upon joining a less than happy and negligibly productive place to serve on the other side of the counter.
Perhaps we could all learn a few lessons from places like In-N-Out. They serve burgers. We preach Christ. If we truly comprehended how glaringly higher our priority is and should be, maybe In-N-Out would be seeking to learn from us. Think about it.