Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How do you like me now?

My first real job was at McDonald’s. I know what some of you are thinking: “Man, I bet you got tired of the food there!”

No, I didn’t, and the purpose of this column is to explain why.

The McDonald’s at which I worked through high school and whenever I was home from college, was the first store owned by a new owner-operator. It was this man’s dream to eventually own more than one McDonald’s. Before my tenure was over, he owned three.

He ran the restaurant well. Employees, even high school students, were treated with respect until they earned otherwise. We each received a performance review at least quarterly and raises were a real possibility.

One angle of the theory was that it would cost more to constantly be training new people than to reward the efforts and commitment of those already trained. The theory proved right.

Much of what I learned working at that McDonald’s was basic customer service and business sense. If we took care of our customers, they would return. If we didn’t, there were plenty of other places for them to eat.

Much of what I learned at that McDonald’s I have translated into church leadership. Too many churches are for the people who have been there forever. When a visitor (or customer, if you’ll bear the analogy) comes in, he or she is treated as an outsider, as someone who doesn’t belong. When we are treated that way at a church, we usually don’t come back.

Though I learned a lot about people, about service, and about how a church can do better from a job at McDonald’s, that really is not the main point I want to get across here. The main point I hope you take with you is that a lot of people would look down their noses at a punk-kid flipping burgers under the golden arches.

Stereotypes can be a bummer sometimes, can’t th

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