Driving Past Olive Garden and Texas Roadhouse to McDonalds

This week there will be families going out to eat together. They will drive past Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, Outback and other restaurants that have a great menu.

Why will they be driving past these restaurants? It's because they are headed to McDonald's.

Why are they going to McDonald's?  It's not because of the food.  It's not because of the service.  It's not because of great a drink selection.  It's not because of the window views. 

The first McDonald's opened on May 15, 1940 in San Bernardino, California.  They now have over 38,000 restaurants worldwide.  In 2020, they were serving an average of 75 hamburgers every second. This equates to 6.5 million burgers per day worldwide. They kept track until the number reached into the billions.  Some estimate they have sold over a trillion burgers. 

Interesting enough is the fact that they sell about a billion kids' meals each year.  Over 2.7 million children eat at McDonalds' per day.

These families are going to McDonald's for one reason.  

It's where their kids want to go.

Their kids like the Happy Meal. They like the toys they get in the Happy Meal. They enjoy the playgrounds (although many McDonald's have removed their playgrounds for a variety of reasons). I do think it was a mistake to do this. Chik-fi-la and Chuck-E-Cheeses still have play areas for kids and it is obviously highly successful.

We know kids can't drive themselves to McDonalds.  Their parents bring them.  Hence you have parents driving past Olive Garden and other restaurants to get to McDonald's. 

The truth is kids have a big say when it comes to family decisions.  Where to eat...what kind of cereal to buy...where to go on vacation...what movie to watch...what style of clothes to buy...I could go on and on. Kids have a tremendous amount of sway when it comes to family decisions.  

According to research by the NRF,  90% of parents say their children influence their purchase decisions.

This factor translates into the church world as well.  Parents decide where they are going to attend church based on their children.  Dad and mom may have a great experience, but if their children say it is "boring" or they don't connect well with the other kids, the parents will bypass their own personal likes to find a church that their children like. 

Think about in Scripture. We see multiple times when parents came to Jesus because of their children. They needed their children to be healed and that was their first contact with Jesus. When you make children's ministry a priority, you will see parents come to Christ as well. 

Make your kids' environments kid-friendly. 

Make sure your curriculum lets kids learn through interactive teaching, high-energy games, fun activities and in-depth discussion times.  Move away from lecturing and move into facilitating learning techniques that actually work and make it into children's long-term memory.

Make sure relationships are a top priority.  It takes what I have mentioned above...but it also takes relationships to see kids continue to come. It's not an either/or but rather it's a both/and. 

Want families to be drawn to your church? Want families to attend your church? Then make children and family ministry a high, high priority.  Make it your goal for your church to be "The Place for Kids and Families" in your city. 

Keep doing this faithfully and you will have a full parking lot on Sunday.