850 words … Speed reader? - 2.8 minutes … with a chicken sandwich and waffle fries ??
In earlier issues, I referenced a group of multisite church innovators that participated in the Multisite Accelerator I created and led during my time at Leadership Network. We took 15 of the multisite pioneers to a series of corporations for conversations with their senior leadership. I shared what we learned about being a hybrid church from our time at Walmart. And in this issue of Church Leader Insider, we are taking a look at some leadership lessons from Chick-fil-A.
Many have written about the excellence of Chick-fil-A’s customer service, leadership selection and systems genius (highlighted during Covid where revenue increased even though most in store dining was closed). But I want to highlight three different insights that are not as well known and I believe have implications for the way we lead our churches.
First, Chick-fil-A is committed to the success of their store operators.
When you arrive at the corporate offices in Atlanta, you are not greeted by a sign that says Chick-fil-A Corporate Headquarters, but rather by a sign that says Chick-fil-A Central Support. As we all understand, words create worlds. And in this case the difference between corporate headquarters and central support define one of the foundations for the company’s success. All that they do, from top to bottom, is designed to support the success of the local operator.
The conversations that were sparked by this insight led to realizations that many times in multisite churches, that central support was really more about central control than central support. How can we make sure that our campuses are exhibiting the DNA of the church and delivering ministry with excellence.
What would it look like to reshape the central structures to more fully be about ensuring the success of the campus pastor and their team?
This principle is not limited to multisite churches. If you are a single site church, is you culture known for and do your systems support a commitment to the success of your staff team … your ministry leaders?
Second, Chick-fil-A understands the truth that innovation happens at the edges.
Who has the clearest picture of the needs of the customer? The store operator. They interact every day (except Sunday) with their customers and their teams. They know if the new order system works … or not. They know if a new menu time is successful … or not. And more importantly, they understand why. This leads to insight to new ways of thinking about systems and menu … and all things involved in running a successful operation.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have a Chick-fil-A in your community, you know how great the food and service are. And you might also be a fan of the milk shakes with cookies or fruit mixed in. How was that product offering developed? A store operator tried it in their store and it was a hit. Same with the amazing Chick-fil-A sauce and a long list of other innovations that were birthed in a local store and made their way back to the Central Support Center in Atlanta.
When was the last time that a ministry leader or a member of your staff or a campus pastor at one of your campuses came up with something that worked because they boots on the ground, close to their “customer”? If it’s been a while you are likely missing out on an innovation that may expand the reach or impact of the ministry of your church.
So, how does Chick-fil-A make this happen? And how can you make it happen in your church? More on that after the following.
Geoff Surratt and I wrote our ebook, Multisite Reimagined almost a year ago. In it we took a look at some churches that were, in light of the pandemic, adapting their model for multisite and church in general rather than simply getting back to “normal.”
Now, a year later, though most churches are meeting in person again, the attendance has not reached per-pandemic numbers. And at this time, we are facing new potential challenges as variants of the virus make their way into our communities.
If you are ready to think forward instead of trying to make it back to the good ole days, I can help.
Multisite Reimagined™ is my proprietary process to help your team think creatively about what’s next for your multisite ministry.
Not multisite? Not a problem, I use a similar process called Storycrafting, developed by colleague Dave Travis, that will help you define the next chapter of your story.
To download the free ebook and take the Multisite Reimagined Assessment, go to Multisite Reimagined.
To schedule a call to talk about it, just go here.
Third, Chick-fil-A understands the value of relational networks.
Beyond the chicken recipe, the secret sauce for Chick-fil-A’s success is supported by a series of regional consultants. These consultants, really more of a coach, are highly engaged relationally with the store operator AND the central support team back in Atlanta. If a store is struggling with staffing or menu prep, the consultant has a direct tie to resources from the support team that provide training, troubleshooting, etc. They have their eyes regularly on the store and as a result assist the store operator in making decisions that grow revenue, increase the level of service, etc. And because of the relational ties they hold, the local sore innovations make their way back to Atlanta, vetted and received by the corporate support leadership.
What if you implemented a similar model in your church? What if someone on your team was charged with making the campuses successful and also observing, vetting and introducing to the central support and leadership, innovations from the edge? Same question with your ministry staff. Are they regularly visiting the groups, classes, ministries they oversee looking for ways to make the leaders successful? Are they learning from those closest to the community what works or doesn’t?
Email me your innovation experiments and stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.