Excellent & Efficient: What the Church Can Learn from Chick-Fil-A

My oldest son and his wife recently gave birth to our fourth grandchild. On our way to the hospital, while his wife was still in labor, our son asked us to pick up some breakfast. The only place by the hospital was a McDonald’s.

We went through the drive-thru and couldn’t help but notice the trash in the parking lot and the beat-up feel to the entire locale. When we reached the menu/order station, we were greeted with a monotone, bored voice, “Can I take your order.”

It wasn’t even a question. Just a statement.

When we pulled around to the first window to pay, the woman never made eye contact with us; she just took our card and handed it back with the receipt.

I said, “Thank you.”

She never even replied. She just closed the window.

We pulled to the next window, got our order, and at least this time we were met with a brief, “Thank you.”

Later that same week, we went to Chick-fil-A. We always like going there because they have good food, it’s clean and bathed in a Christian ethos with impeccable customer service.

The difference between Chick-fil-A and our McDonald’s experience could not have been starker. The drive-thru line was served by energetic and pleasant young people with mobile devices able to take our order and payment to speed up the process. We were greeted with eye contact, smiles, “How can I serve you?” and, if you know Chick-fil-A well, lots of “My pleasure!” in response to any and all requests. I was told to have a great day. I was asked if there was anything else I needed. I was told how much I was appreciated.

I remember turning to my wife, even though we’ve been to Chick-fil-A a thousand times, to say: “It just doesn’t take that much to have good customer service. Why don’t other places do it like Chick-fil-A? It’s just not that hard to be nice and courteous and friendly.”

Chick-fil-A costs more than McDonald’s. The lines are sometimes longer (because it’s popular). They only serve chicken.

But I don’t care.

One “My pleasure!” is worth a thousand burgers.

What does this have to do with the church?

A member of our staff was serving this past weekend at one of our newer campuses and sent me an email following the experience. She was teaching a class there through the Meck Institute titled “Find Your Fit.” She met a woman who, through the class, decided she wanted to join our Guest Services Team.

Why?

Here’s the rest of her email:

“She said that’s what drew her to Meck because they made her feel so at home. Her kids noticed it too. A friend of hers asked her middle school daughter, I believe it was, why she likes going to Meck so much.

“She said, ‘Everyone is so nice and so welcoming. Let me put it this way. It’s the difference between the customer service at McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A.’ I thought that was such a sweet (and creative) compliment to our Guest Services Team.”

I did too.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

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Recent Comments
In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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