In 2003 Carleen Hawn wrote a fascinating article for FAST COMPANY magazine on hamburgers. She said, “Conventional wisdom says that Americans have lost their taste for burgers—which would explain why McDonald’s, the world’s biggest purveyor of fast food (14 gazillion served!), has gone as limp as an hour-old french fry.”1
She went on to talk about a California-based chain of 175 all-burger joints called In-N-Out Burgers. Today there are 6 locations here in the DFW area and 281 locations nationwide apparently still drawing standing-room-only crowds every day at lunchtime. The reason? Their double burger! Their buns are baked daily from natural yeast-fed dough. The menu at In-N-Out Burgers, as well as the preparation of their sandwiches, has changed very little since Harry and Esther Snyder began with their first drive-through in 1948.
According to the article, Harry and Esther Snyder, who started the family hamburger business back in 1948, have “never allowed freezers, heat lamps, or microwaves, so every sandwich is truly made-to-order and served hot.” They have their tomatoes brought in fresh and grind their beef with their own team of butchers.“ Cheese is one of the few options In-N-Out offers. It sells burgers--single or double--fries, sodas and shakes. That’s it.”2
McDonald’s, on the other hand, has changed a lot over the years and added (according to the article) nearly 40 items to their menu since opening in 1955. Since In-N-Out Burgers is still a private company, it’s difficult to accurately gauge their profitability. However, judging by the lines that extend way out the door of their restaurants every day in California, even here in Texas, it’s a safe bet they’re turning a healthy profit. The same year Ms. Hawn wrote her article, McDonald’s reported their first quarterly loss in their history. 3
Truth is, it’s really hard to beat simplicity when it comes to hamburgers or even the church. Next time you’re tempted to “change the menu” in your church and get involved in all kinds of other things, maybe you should remember the Snyders and In-N-Out Burgers. Because, more often that not, it’s the simple things that make the church great in the first place. Things like: Glorify God. Reach the lost. Preach the Word. Love the Lord. Live your faith. Serve your church, and Give your best!
Even the Apostle Paul said, “This one thing I do …” (Philippians 3:13). Pretty simple.
Maybe if the church would get back to the simple things and focus on doing them with a fresh passion every day, we’d have people standing in line, too!
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
1 Carleen Hawn, “The In-N-Out Burger,” Fast Company, 1 Sept 2003, 6 Aug 2014 <http://www.fastcompany.com/47316/n-out-burger>.
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.