“Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?”
If you know me, you know that I love McDonald’s. I grew up on McDonald’s. In the city, there was a McDonald’s on every corner. (Not really, but as a kid, it sure felt that way.) My favorites; of course the Big Mac, and the world famous french fries, the old vanilla shakes (don’t care that much for the new recipe), the shamrock shake, and the Egg McMuffin. My kids love McDonald’s, but what kid doesn’t? It’s a wonderful treat for the entire family!
McDonald’s is a fastfood icon. As American as apple pie. It has a culture all its own, with patrons who visit the golden arches world wide on a regular basis. Even in the age of cappuccinos and frappes, smoothies and flavored teas, McDonald’s has managed to keep itself at the forefront of fast-food dining, evolving and re-creating its image to stay current with modern day trends.
McDonald’s is awesome!
Wednesday morning, I made the trip into Peters Township to begin my orientation, as I start the journey to become a manager at one of my favorite places. Yes, I am now working at McDonald’s.
Why you ask? Great question.
In the coming months we will be making the move from Somerset to North Strabane. With Harvest being only a couple of months old, the resources are not yet there to sustain a full-time pastor and his family. When caring for a family of 7, you have to think about things like health insurance, paying bills, and feeding kids. So while we grow as a church, McDonald’s will help to fill some of the financial holes we expect to see develop as we move from one job to the next. Fortunately, we don’t have to fully rely on a McDonald’s salary. God provided for us through the generosity of gifts received when we left St. Paul’s. And Harvest is paying us a small salary. But what McDonald’s offers is more than a paycheck.
1. Connection to the Community.
Moving back to a familiar area is great. We already know a number of people who live in the area. We already know the lay of the land. We have favorite restaurants, stores, and locations around the area that we love and look forward to visiting. But we don’t want to move back and simply blend into what we once knew. Instead, we want to make a fresh start, to meet new neighbors, and to connect with a community that we don’t know. One of the reasons we feel like God is calling us to start a new church is to reach the neighbors who do not yet attend a church. Many of the friends we already know are involved with churches in the area. While we would love to have them join us, we don’t want to move them from a fellowship that works for them. Working at McDonald’s will expose us to a new group of potential friends. From the students to the adults I will soon work with, to the many hundreds of faces that will pass through the doors of the store, working at McDonald’s will open the opportunity to connect with a larger community.
2. Training that is Unmatched.
It takes a lot to make a church function. More than the teaching, preaching and caring for people, you must know how to budget, schedule, coordinate, oversee, manage, delegate, and provide for the accountability and discipline of a staff. McDonald’s is a company that trains their own managers. In the weeks to come, I will enter that training program, learning not just the food aspect of the company, but the skills deemed necessary to manage people and a business. No doubt many of the vital skills that a manager will need to run a successful fast food restaurant will be useful as I prepare to serve our new church. Plus it doesn’t hurt of master your burger flipping and building skills!
3. It’s a Humbling Venture.
For the last 20+ years, I have been the lead dog. As a youth pastor, I was responsible for the ministry and care of both students and adults. I led the meetings, I taught, I led worship, I planned trips, I trained staff, I discipled students. In just about all I did, I was the leader. Now I am not. Starting next week, I will be the one being trained. I will be the one learning, making mistakes, asking questions, and watching as others lead me. As pastors we serve our students and congregations. But in that service there is a safety net. You know the people you are serving and you are still their pastor. But now I will have the opportunity to serve those I don’t know. People who might never visit a church much less talk with a pastor. I will be mopping floors, wiping counters, making food, and serving customers. And I will be doing it for a fraction of what I used to get paid as a youth pastor. That thought alone is enough to bring me to my knees.
I don’t plan, expect, or hope to be with McDonald’s for very long. We are praying that God opens the flood gates and uses us to reach an unreached part of this community. My heart is for the already faithful families who attend Harvest and for the many more we hope to reach. As much as I love McDonald’s, this is only a season in which we will pass through. But while I pass through it, I hope to make the most of every opportunity to meet, care for, and share the grace and love of God with whoever he might see fit to bring across my path.