Matt and I are big fans of The Hard Rock Cafe. The closest one to us is 2-2.5 hours away, so needless to say, we don’t eat there often.
Aside from expecting an awesome bacon cheeseburger (real women eat cheeseburgers, thx), I have several things to look forward to.  If I were to be honest, I have greater excitement & anticipation in going there than to church most days (But don’t tell them I said that).

The truth is, there are just some things businesses (like Hard Rock) get that the Church, in general, doesn’t. Not to say that there aren’t exceptions to that statement (as it is a broad one) but these are things I have experienced.

The Hard Rock Cafe knows what people want & aims to give it to them.
HRC has found people want tasty, fun food, in a fun & unique atmosphere, enjoying great music.
Don’t give me that “what people want isn’t always what people need” thing, I understand that, but it just makes sense that when you go out to meet people’s needs, without tending to wants, people aren’t satisfied. Because at some point, wants become needs, and to avoid that reality means you avoid people. How the Church is missing the mark, is that they try to feed people (good), but they’re not feeding people palatable food (bad), and the atmosphere is dry (bad), so people may get nutrition (good), but if they don’t enjoy the experience, they won’t come back. If I didn’t enjoy HRC food and atmosphere, I’d be eating somewhere else.

The Hard Rock Cafe celebrates, & is enjoyed by the generations.
I, in my 20’s can go to the HRC and find something in the rock & roll memorabilia that I relate to and enjoy seeing. My brother, in his 30’s, can find something he relates to and enjoys seeing, and my mother, in her 50’s, can do the same.  Prophetically, the Church is still not quite on target here. There is still a disjointedness between the younger up&comers, and the older we’veseenit’s. One ministry always seems to receive more preference than the other (usually because of the pastor’s deference to one particular group), and so a bridge doesn’t seem to emerge. We must learn to appreciate the innovations & contributions of those who’ve gone before us, and to honor them; in doing so, we can’t neglect to honor the achievements and promise of the emergent generations. Hard Rock knows this, and as such, they are doing very well.

The Hard Rock Cafe Has a Great Mission Statement.
“Love All, Serve All” is the motto emblazoned on every restaurant they own. A hindu phrase, to be true, but that doesn’t nullify the understanding that comes with it. It was better conveyed by Jesus who said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself,” or “He who would be first, must be last.” Pick your favorite. Oftimes it seems that the message that comes from the Church (or those members who are just perhaps more vocal than the rest) is that of obligation, implying that Christ is owed obedience by the world. While true, it would seem that our words often attest more to this belief than our actions do. I’d much rather be occupied with changing the world than telling unbelievers what a disappointment they are to God (which is ludicrous) that they aren’t behaving themselves. Bottom line, the great commission states we’re to “go ye unto the world and tell the gospel.” Not “go ye unto the world and tell them how much they suck.” Trust me, in my B.C. days,  I knew I sucked. I didn’t need a reminder.

Overall, sometimes it is easier to feel more at ease and accepted inside of a restaurant than the house of God. But at both establishments, I essentially expect the same things: food, fellowship, and that I’ll give them money at the end. My only exhortation is that maybe we can learn a little bit from those who might have a slightly larger congregation than we do.