Saturday, May 05, 2007

Help, Our Churches are being McDonaldised

Mark Chan, writing in (2000). "Problem and Possibility of an Asian Theological Hermeneutics." Trinity Theological Journal 9: 55-56. , comments,

“A Mcdonaldized ethos is marked by the dictates of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control does not value individuality, creativity, deliberation or attention to details. It is speed, proficiency, and the attainment of objectified goals that count.” (2002, 120).

The characteristics of McDonaldization is derived from the working of the fast food chain;
*efficiency means simplified products,

*calculability means quantifiable products and services,

*predictability means standardisation of product and services, and

*control means replacement of human by technology.

McDonaldisation has arrived on our shores and even in our churches. In the name of efficiency, we have begun to simplify our sermons and church services. Some people call it “dumbing down” (Marwa Dawn (1995). Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down: A Theology of Worship for the Turn-of-the-Century Culture. Grand Rapids, MI, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.). Important facts are now delivered in short sound bites.

We have begun to play the number games in marking church attendance and giving. That is calculability.

Predictability means standardising our church programs so that it is easily reproducible and by control, we look towards technology to solve our church problems. That’s why imported packaged education programs produced by megachurches in the United States is so attractive because we have been McDonaldised.


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Anonymous alwyn said...

i was first introduced to McChurch by the Footstool's like you just go to the 'counter' and order whatevcer kind of church you like, right? consumer church at it worst.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...


What's on the menu, I wonder?

Big Mac meal, a megachurch that comes complete with french singers and a big cup of holy water, lite.

10:45 PM  
Blogger lilian koh said...

Yes, I fully agree that consumerism has entered the church, not to mention the other unhealthy...'isms'. Quite a danger especially in large church settings. Spiritual formation happens through relationships, not just by offering fast food however 'tasty'. Jesus formed the Twelve by getting them to be with him, alongside him for 3 years. We must recover the personal dimension in spiritual formation. I am especially concerned about the youth who are often offered interesting programs rather than being discipled and mentored.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

hi lilian,

I share your concern about our youth. The problem is relationship is not efficient. It is messy, it is not controllable.

Unfortunately, our churches wants to be like large corporations. They want to be efficient, predictible, reproductible and all the other features of a fast food industry.

I am praying that spiritual formation is the antidote to McDonaldisation and Disneyisation of our churches.

12:13 PM  

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