Yes, the title you read above is right. This quote, for those of you who do not immediately recognize it, is the popular slogan of the Chick-fil-A restaurants begun over fifty years ago by Christian businessman, S. Truett Cathy of Atlanta. Cathy, born in 1921 in Eatonton, Georgia, received only a high school education. He has been a faithful Baptist layman and Sunday School teacher for many decades.
He has, simply put, made a lifetime of applying basic biblical principles to life and his business success. (He refuses, to this day, to open his stores on Sundays!)
Cathy is the author of several books, including Eat Mor Chikin Inspire More People: Doing Business the Chick-fil-A Way (Looking Glass Books, 2002) and the co-author with Ken Blanchard of The Generosity Factor: Discover the Joy of Giving Your Time, Talent and Treasure (Zondervan, 2002). Cathy is highly regarded across a very wide spectrum of people. His work has been supported by former President Jimmy Carter, Norman Vincent and Ruth Peale, John C. Maxwell, Zig Ziglar and a host of noteworthy ministers whose paths he has crossed over his many years of active Christian service.
This past weekend I bumped into the Cathy legacy in a direct way, speaking for an elders’ retreat for Southwood Presbyterian Church of Huntsville, Alabama, at The Summit,
located in Fort Payne, Alabama. This lovely estate, located about equidistant from Birmingham, Chattanooga and Huntsville, is tucked in the rolling hills of North Alabama in a private place that is used for renewing the spirit and body of Christian men and women. The Summit is used by people from every field and profession, including church, business, philanthropy, medicine and academia. It is a place for leaders to retreat, refresh and grow. It invites contemplative rest and thought. It is also a lovely place to have a retreat like the one I spoke to this last weekend. This estate was originally the home of Teddy Gentry, the bass guitarist, vocalist and songwriter of the legendary country music band, Alabama. The property was bought by Cathy "to reform our innermost attitudes toward people and events."
Behind this place is a ministry called Lifeshape, a non-profit organization "working to break the cycle of spiritual poverty throughout the world." Another major part of this non-profit ministry is Impact 360, a mission
designed to impact students between high school and college so that they can navigate culture and spiritual life with maturity.
I had a delightful time at The Summit. The discussion with the Southwood elders led us into a wide-ranging back and forth about what the missional concept means and how it impacts a local church and its ministry philosophy. The 20 plus elders taught me a great deal and encouraged me to pursue the missional mandate with more clarity and passion, which led me to begin the new blog spot, www.transformissionalchurch.com.
One humorous element of my lovely retreat was the Friday evening meal at The Summit. I have watched Chick-fil-A commercials for years.
They range from cows landing at a football game telling the throngs to "eat mor chikin" to a family missing their sack of burgers on the back seat because a cow, riding on the roof of the car, had swiped them while their little boy keeps saying, "Cow. Cow. Cow." Well, our absolutely wonderful meal at The Summit on Friday night featured steak and shrimp. Many of us saw the irony and got a great laugh from eating beef and fish at the retreat center of Chick-fil-A. I’ll never watch these commercials the same way again I assure you. I also thank God for the vision and influence of S. Truett Cathy, a Christian businessman who has lived a long life for the kingdom of God and making a profit, proving that both can and should be done for the glory of God.
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I love Chick-fil-A. I loved while I lived in Chicago and had to drive three hours in any of three directions before I could find one. But since I moved down south, I have started meeting people that work there. They love Mr Cathy! So not only do they have a good product, but people like their work and like the leaders. (I am sure someone doesn’t, but everyone I have met so far does.)