Christians Should Be More Like Chipotle

This week Taco Bell and Pizza Hut announced that they are going to start phasing artificial flavors and colors out of their menu.  And I think there’s a big lesson in that for Christians.

So why are Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, after enjoying so much success with their current menu, changing?

Well, several analysts are saying that traditional fast food chains are being forced to change by restaurants like Chipotle.  If you’re not familiar with Chipotle, they’re a Mexican-ish, taco-burrito-ish place that doesn’t market itself as “fast food”, but definitely competes with traditional drive-thru establishments.

Chipotle markets its menu as “food with integrity” (remember that, it’ll be important later) and they serve vegetables grown in “healthy soil” and pork that was raised while being able to “freely root and roam outdoors”.  To someone so addicted to McRibs (me), all that sounds pretty hokie.  But it’s good.  In fact, Chipotle is really good.

And for a price comparable to traditional fast food and served just as quickly, you can have food that is at least reasonably healthy.  (Or advertised as healthy enough to make you feel less guilty for eating a two pound burrito.)

In our small town the Chipotle is sandwiched right in-between Pizza Hut and McDonald’s and often stays busier than either.  When given the option, it appears that people would rather have actual black pepper in their food than just the flavor of black pepper (that’s what Taco Bell was doing).

So what does that have to do with Christians?

Well…Much like Chipotle, in today’s world there are some Christians marketing “Christianity with integrity”.  It’s the real deal.  It’s Christianity that’s down to earth (grown in real soil).  It’s Christianity from real people who aren’t afraid to admit their very real struggles with very real sins (spent time rooting around outdoors).

Like Chipotle, these Christians don’t have much to offer in the way of their menu.  Chipotle has a handful of ingredients prepared with attention to detail and you can either take it or leave it, but their menu doesn’t change.  And Christianity with integrity is much the same.  Christianity with integrity has the commands and guidelines from the Bible, interpreted and studied with an attention to detail…but the menu won’t be changed to suit your personal preferences.

And much like Chipotle, Christians like this seem to be very few and far between.

Instead, what you see more often is the fast-food mentality.  Don’t even bother getting out of your car, just use the drive-thru…..Don’t bother assembling with the saints, just listen to a radio program.  Taco Bell serves “mexican pizza” and McDonald’s serves “taco wraps”…..And too many religions today try to offer a little bit of everything, mixing and merging their doctrine with something else that’s popular to draw in new customers.

In a day and age when many Christians see themselves as being persecuted more and more what I think we’ll begin to see is a sort of purge in American “Christianity”.  I think that in the face of oppression and persecution, people are going to start taking a hard look at their churches and wondering just how authentic they are.

There were a lot of people who loved Taco Bell food, who were offended when they learned that Taco Bell didn’t even bother to use real black pepper as an ingredient.  And I think that although many people enjoy the comforts of their current religion, there’s going to come a time when they are offended at how artificial their churches have become.

And when that happens, they’re going to start looking for a Chipotle kind of church.  A church that is authentic, serving a wholesome faith, with integrity.

Christians today could learn a lot from Chipotle’s “free rooting pigs” and Taco Bell’s “black pepper flavor”.  They could learn that if you serve simple, pure ingredients…..people will come to the table.  It might take a while, but eventually they will.  And when that happens, the churches full of artificial flavors are going to either go out of business or be forced to change.  And that’s a win for everybody.