Just as we were launching Imagine Church in the fall of 2014, I attended the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta where, on a whim, I signed up for a workshop titled "The Culture of Chick-fil-A". Surprisingly, it turned out to be one of the most insightful and enlightening sessions I have ever experienced.
Chick-fil-A understands that what makes people return is not a product but a relationship. "Trust, not chicken, is the most important thing we offer," is one of the truisms I recall writing down. Relationships, we know, are established by creating and cultivating trust over long periods of time. While many quick-service restaurants are struggling with sales during this pandemic, Chick-fil-A is flourishing. Why? It's likely because their procedures and commitment to "operational excellence" have established a level of credibility that their customers are leaning into during these uncertain times.
I've tried to build into Imagine Church some of what I learned studying the culture of Chick-fil-A. I have found it helpful to rely on those concepts during this season because of the polarizing opinions within most churches on how we should address this pandemic. Not all will necessarily believe in the plan we're following. But it's important they know how much I believe in it. I'm counting on the fact that Imagine Church folks have trust in the people who lead rather than the plan they implement. They will be okay with decisions they disagree with if those decisions were made thoughtfully and prayerfully.
One of the verses Chick-fil-A relies on comes from Proverbs 19:21, "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." At Imagine Church, we build our unity around trust instead of preferences. We strive to maintain humility as plans are implemented. We know that God is ultimately sovereign and his purposes prevail over our plans.
As we strive to lead well, we will always point the church toward the only leader who is consistently trustworthy and true. Where did we learn to do that? Well, from the Bible, of course. But you can also thank Chick-fil-A.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas