McChurch, McChristian, Burger King Bible

Fast-food Christianity? Apparently that’s what some people are calling it. What are your thoughts about McChurch and the Burger King Bible?

definition of mcchurch, mcbible, mcchristian, burger king bibleThere is no shortage of Christianese words to describe what some people deem to be superficial Christianity and the slick, commercial Christians who want to package it for you. Hence today’s combo meal of the terms McChurch, McChristian, McBible, Burger King Bible, and Burger King Christian.

Can you smell the aroma of disdain and disapproval just wafting off these fast-food metaphors?

At least with other Christianese terms like cafeteria Christian and cafeteria Christianity, there is the sense that Christians are taking some good things and simply leaving some good things on the buffet table. With these fast-food metaphors, the implication is that there really isn’t anything good to choose from at all.

The oldest of these terms, McChurch, appears to have been coined sometime in the early to mid-1980s. The other terms are much newer—first appearing in the 1990s and 2000s.

These fast-food metaphors share a meaning similar to terms such as Christian lite, Christianity lite, and diet Christianity that also describe a superficial brand of Christianity.

Have you heard people using any other fast-food Christianese? Serve up your examples with a side of humor in the comments.

 

McChurch n. The practice of accepting some orthodox doctrines but rejecting others; a church in which this practice is alleged to flourish; a church characterized by superficiality and commercialism.
See also *Burger King Bible; *cafeteria Christianity.
1985 Wittenburg Door (Feb.–Mar.) 27 : McChurch: Derisive slang for the now popular franchise churches. Developed in the late 1980’s by various evangelists, faith healers, and TV personality preachers. 1987 Kokomo Tribune (IN) (Aug.) 4 : [sermon title:] “One McChurch to Go!” 1992 The Chicago Reader (6 Aug.) : McChurch! Don’t say that word to founder Bill Hybels or anyone else closely associated with the Willow Creek Community Church. They will tell you in no uncertain terms that this is no quick, low-nutrition stop for spiritual snacking. Willow Creek, says Hybels, challenges people to “deep discipleship,” to a “100 percent commitment” to Jesus Christ. 1992 Seguin Gazette-Enterprise (TX) (23 Oct.) 7 : Millions of Americans are flocking to radically new congregations designed for those who consider attending regular church boring…. The new churches avoid lengthy sermons, reject denominational labels, and don’t pressure new visitors to give money…. Critics label it “McChurch,” saying religion is being sold like hamburgers and creates an easy, fast food kind of faith lacking in spiritual nourishment. 1992 Colson, Vaughn The Body: Being Light in Darkness 52 : People flit about in search of what suits their taste at the moment. It’s what some have called the “McChurch” mentality. Today it might be McDonald’s for a Big Mac; tomorrow it’s Wendy’s salad bar; or perhaps the wonderful Kentucky Fried Chicken sandwiches. 1996 Deweese, ed. Defining Baptist Convictions: Guidelines for the Twenty-First Century 162 : Will the church—will Southern Baptists—rediscover the prophetic voice and Christ-like selflessness in the midst of a consumer-oriented, “McChurch” society? In a culture wooed by rugged individualism and soothed by a “feel good” gospel, will ethnic churches’ fundamental faith become the pathway to guide Baptists toward the radical Kingdom emphases of New Testament Christianity? 1997 McIntosh Make Room for the Boom… or Bust: Six Church Models for Reaching Three Generations 67 : One concern about seeker-centered churches comes from the preaching of what many call “light” sermons. Some have called the preaching in seeker-centered churches pop gospel, fast-food theology, and McChurch. 1997 Blair Lose the Weight of the World 232 : We’ve moved into the McChurch mentality—each church competing with other spiritual retail outlets on other corners in the city. 1999 Floyd How to Pray 86 : This was not McChurch, where you drive in and drive out to have your most prominent “felt need” met for the day, preferably in a one-hour time limit. 2001 Contact: Official Publication of the National Association of Free Will Baptists XLVIII. 15 : Some smaller, traditional churches, wary of the mega- church model that has made church into “McChurch,” avoid any kind of “programs” for fear they will sell out and become something the church isn’t meant to be. 2002 Tomczak Reckless Abandon 140 : “McChurch” meetings are increasingly offered to lure more congregants with “in-and-out” express services featuring three upbeat songs, offering and a twenty-minute sermonette. 2003 Allitt Religion in America Since 1945: A History 230 : Evangelicals, too, warned their megachurch brethren that they were in danger of creating a “McChurch” or “Church-lite” environment. 2004 Reccord Made to Count: Discovering What to Do with Your Life 91 : They need to understand an important truth about the church. The church does not exist to serve them. That mindset—consumer Christianity or “McChurch” as some call it—is simply not scriptural. 2004 Twitchell Branded Nation: The Marketing of Megachurch, College Inc., and Museumworld 271 : If Willow [Creek] is excoriated as McChurch, then the Guggenheim is McMuseum. If Willow is debasing the integrity of sanctified truth, the Gugg is doing the same with sanctified art. 2004 Wilson Future Church: Ministry in a Post-seeker Age 47 : Obviously, Mosaic isn’t a “McChurch,” but neither is it Church-Lite. The standards for membership are high. According to McManus, “You can’t join our church unless you are willing to live a holy life, be actively involved in ministry, have an evangelistic lifestyle, and at minimum tithe.” 2005 Reccord, Singer Made to Count: Discovering What to Do with Your Life 91 : That mindset—consumer Christianity or “McChurch” as some call it—is simply not scriptural. We exist to build Christ’s kingdom by building Christ’s church. The church does not exist to build our ego, our business, or even our circle of friends. 2005 New York Times (1Dec.) : We entered the Paul VI Audience Hall, an enormous concrete structure, cavernous and modern, like a big suburban church, or an evangelical McChurch at the edge of a city. Rows of fixed seats were aligned toward the stage. 2007 Twitchell Shopping for God: How Christianity Went from In Your Heart to In Your Face 59 : If it delivers sensation and cost efficiencies, the mega [churches] will be using it. We’ll visit a few of these churches later on. They are not scary at all, and even though they bristle when called “McChurch” or “Christianity Lite,” they know what they are doing. 2009 White, Yeats Franchising McChurch: Feeding Our Obsession with Easy Christianity b.c. : Are we serving junk food for the soul? We live in a fast-food nation, where service is efficient, products are peer-tested, and size is king. And this consumer-driven approach is seeping into the church…. Franchising McChurch takes an honest look at the rise of consumer-minded ministries. 2012 Lopez Postcolonial Whiteness: A Critical Reader on Race and Empire 31 : We live in an age when observant faith, for those who have it, has become stripped- down, almost ritual-free, drive-in McChurch divorced from mystery.
McChristian n. A Christian whose faith is superficial or insubstantial.
See also *Burger King Christian; *cafeteria Christian.
1996 Fisher 21st Century Pastor 77 : Patterson detects a certain “McChristian” mentality that brings consumerism to the church. The church is often seen as a place to receive goods and services rather than as a body whose purpose it is to serve. Church is one of the options in the cafeteria of the Christian life. 1998 Evans, Evans Seasons of Love: A Daily Devotional for Couples 58 : Our churches are also plagued by “McChristians.” They want drive-through Christianity. No getting out, no going inside, no commitment, no sacrifice, no inconvenience. Just drive by, order what you want, and leave the work for someone else. But that’s not what God wants for our families. 1997 Evans What a Way to Live! Running All of Life by the Kingdom Agenda 5 : We have allowed the world and its agenda to invade the church and help shape our thinking and our actions. The result has been what I call drive-through “McChristian” spirituality. This has led to weak Christians leading weak families bringing about weak churches. 2001 Hughes Disciplines of a Godly Woman 120 : This “McChristian” mentality constantly checkes to see what’s new on the menu, just in case there’s a better deal down the street. “McChristians” have a telling vocabulary, using phrases such as “I go to” or “I attend” but not typically using the words “I belong to” or “I am a member of.”
McBible n. [in allusion to McDonald’s, the well-known fast-food restaurant] The practice of accepting some orthodox doctrines but rejecting others; theology that is superficial or insubstantial.
See also *cafeteria Christian.
1996 Shellenberger Camp, Car Washes, Heaven, and Hell (77 Pretty Important Ideas on Living God’s Way) 109 : [Avoid] anything with a picture of a clown and a name like “McBible.” In other words, avoid things that distract you from the main points: Bible reading and prayer. 1998 standardbearer.rfpa.org (Sep.) : McEverything. So one has described this age. A fair description, I think. We live in an age where almost everything is and must be quick and easy. And to go. Whatever it is we want we want it short, simple, sweet, quick, yummy, and cheap. Hot’n Now. Your way. For people on the go. McEverything…. McBible Study. 2008 fourpointcalvinist.blogspot.com (Jan.) : Make sure you bring your McBible! Truth Matters has another example of the watered-down, man-centered, just-do-it-as-long-as-it-gets-them-in-the-doors “worship” so prevelant in many “churches” today. 2010 Elnes The Phoenix Affirmations: A New Vision for the Future of Christianity 31 : We live in the McBible era. People think they can just pull up to the drive-thru window of faith, order a passage or two to meet their needs, and be on their way.
Burger-King Christian n. [in allusion to the well-known slogan of the Burger King restaurant: “Have it your way”] A Christian who accepts some orthodox doctrines but rejects others.
See also *cafeteria Christian; *McChristian.
2009 planetkenebrew.blogspot.com (26 Jul.) : Are you a Burger King Christian? Remember the old slogan “Have it Your Way?” Burger King used this as their ad slogan many years ago to let you know there was not only “one way” to enjoy their burger. You can add or take away anything. Your way didn’t have to be my way. You don’t like pickles? No problem. You want more mayo? No problem. Unfortunately, that’s not how Christianity works. 2010 Evans Evolving in Monkey Town 130 : Those of us who lack the fortitude to accept God’s Word on the subject are just “Burger King Christians.” We want to “have it our way.”
Burger King Bible n. [in allusion to the well-known slogan of the Burger King restaurant: “Have it your way”] The practice of accepting some orthodox doctrines but rejecting others.
See also *cafeteria Christianity.
2005 smallvictoriesusa.com : What Bible are they reading from? The “Burger King Bible”—“Have it your way.” 2008 speakupwny.com (1Jul.) : I prefer the Burger King Bible. “Have it your way.” I try my best to manipulate scripture as much as possible to fit my own agenda. 2009 av1611.com (2Jun.) : You try and bend the Scriptures around your private interpretations. The Scriptures don’t bend; they bend you. You’re dead set on having a Burger King Bible and a Burger King Theology. 2010 Edwards Or Now Is Fine: Choosing to Obey God’s Stop! Wait! Go! 47 : He [=God] has a purpose, and it’s not all about me having my way—no matter how many options there are on the Burger King menu—or I may hope to find in my Burger King Bible. 2011 truthinthemorning.blogspot.com (3May) : “No Burger King Bible Here.” … God is good and faithful to us, but He is not fooled by our careful editing of His Word. This isn’t Burger King, friends. We can’t have it our own way. It was God who outlined the consequences of living outside His will for us.
  • Josh

    Can we at least have a better picture than the clown from the McDonald’s commercial on a cross? I mean, that’s the kind of blasphemy I expect on a pagan website, but here?

    • Josh, thanks for commenting. I don’t see that image as blasphemy, though I can understand where you’re coming from in seeing it that way. I think the image prompts us to think about the comparison between the church and the fast-food industry in a way that can be helpful and edifying. I agree that it can be a surprising image for some people, but I personally think it does not qualify as blasphemy. I think this is something we can both simply disagree about.

      • duskglow

        I’m with you. Even worst case, this would seem to apply to the scripture where Jesus says he can forgive anyone who speaks against him. And this isn’t even speaking against him. Methinks some “keeping one’s eye on the ball” is in order here.