By Keith Shorter
Nearly every time I go to Chick-fil-A, it makes me want to be a better pastor.
As I enjoy my chicken sandwich, I’m always impressed by something. The way they conduct their business and serve their customers fascinates me. The culture they have created is unlike anything I have ever experienced in any other fast food restaurant.
Maybe that’s why their parking lot is typically full and the drive-thru is stacked two wide. I never see that at other restaurants. Sure, other restaurants may be busy occasionally, but it’s a daily occurrence at our local Chick-fil-A. The amazing thing is that I see the same thing at nearly every Chick-fil-A.
I wish that my church were a bit more like Chick-fil-A. Don’t get me wrong, I pastor a great church, and I have been privileged to do so for 22 years. Still, I am convinced that there are some things we can learn from the chicken company that made the cow famous.
1. Develop a culture of serving others.
Everyone’s job at Chick-fil-A is to serve. Regardless of their title or job description, you will likely hear more than one person say, “My pleasure” in serving you.
2. Call people by name.
When I go through the drive-thru, they always ask my name as they take my order. By the time I make it to the window, someone else hands me my food and calls me by name. I know they are just reading it off a screen, but still that personal touch means something.
3. Develop systems to be efficient.
Think about it. The busiest fast-food restaurant in our community has the best customer service. How is that possible? They have developed systems to handle the crowds of people. They expect a large crowd each day and they plan for it.
4. Give back to the community.
Founder Truett Cathy always said that he wasn’t in the chicken business, but the people business. Chick-fil-A treats their customers like friends and serves their communities like neighbors.
5. Be creative.
In 1995 a cow was seen painting three words on a billboard in Texas — “Eat Mor Chikin.” A star was born. Now, people dress up like a cow once a year for a free sandwich!
6. Strive for excellence.
According to the Chick-fil-A website, that capital A on the end of the name is deliberate. It stands for “grade A, top quality.” They seem to work hard to live up to their name.
7. Honor the Lord.
Every Sunday this popular national chain closes its doors and their restaurants sit still. They give every employee an opportunity to rest and worship if they so choose.
Here’s my suggestion. Take your staff or deacons out to lunch one day at Chick-fil-A and make your own list. You will enjoy your lunch and you may see a principle or two that you could implement in your church.
To be sure, there is a difference between the body of Christ and a chicken restaurant. We have a much higher calling. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is at the heart of all that we do as a church. So as we go about the task of making disciples, let’s be sure we are intentional in our efforts.
Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” The task that God has given us is too important to do it halfheartedly. In whatever ways you go about sharing the Gospel in your community, do it enthusiastically.
I hope that your church and mine will be a little more like Chick-fil-A. Let’s strive to be the place in our community where people who are hungry for God feel welcome and wanted.
Keith Shorter is pastor of Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Easley, South Carolina, and a former president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.