The Church of the Chick Fil A

Posted on February 1, 2015


The earliest places where Christians worshipped were in the homes of the new converts.
Forget your stereotypical local churches, marked by soaring spires, chapels, sanctuaries, baptismal fonts, Sunday school classes, nurseries, basketball courts, and reserved parking spaces for the staff.

And while we are at it, forget the senior pastor, the priest, the associate pastor, the junior pastor, the acolytes, the college pastor, the junior college pastor, the old people pastor, the young marrieds pastor, the choir director, the pastors emeriti and all the secretaries, accountants, maintenance men, television producers, DVD makers, and social media mavens.

And for you Christians who go to more liturgically-inclined churches, forget the robes and cassocks, the miters and shepherd’s staffs, the funny trappings that pass for holy head gear, the swinging censers putting out small plumes of incense, the chants and creeds said in unison or in response, depending upon the denomination, the season, and the occasion.

Nobody gets off the hook here. Snake handlers in the hills of northern Alabama are as guilty of making Christians look as crazy as loons as much as hermits in the gear of John the Baptist—think hair shirts and sandals—in the deserts of Egypt, eating locusts and honey, and maybe a Granola bar if they can sneak it into their diet.

Throughout the centuries, Christians have developed, acquired, invented or otherwise added to the central act of any religion, the act of worship.

So it is with a good dose of humility, but with a lot of conviction, that small groups gather today in homes and other non-Church locales to pray, study, fellowship, and share their faith, hoping to grow more as Christians as we fasten on and probe the word of God.

For Christians, that word is captured in the Bible, and especially in the New Testament beginning with the Book of Matthew and concluding with the mysterious and mystical Book of Revelations.

The Church of the Chick Fil A gathers on Thursday mornings before dawn, around 6 a.m. to do our Christian thing.

Our “Church” happens to be the Northport Chick Fil A, usually staffed by kids who could be our children, or, truth be told, our grandchildren.

The young ones—usually with smile for us–open the shop at 6 a.m. but have been there an hour or two getting ready for customers.

We are not consciously trying to imitate anyone, but we probably resemble some of those early Christians who gathered in homes to worship and listen to the apostles, such as Paul and Peter. tell them about Jesus Christ.

Our Peters and Pauls are Scripture itself, written, of course, by Peter, Paul, Matthew, John, James, Jude and the others who either knew about Jesus firsthand, or heard of him from others who did. We take turns leading the Chick Fil Aers, reading and commenting on Scripture and getting the juices flowing. That is easy to do.

Throw out a simple question, following prayer requests and praises, and we’re off to the races.

Try something like “why are we here” and your likely to get everything from

“They have good coffee!” to

“To worship God of course!”

And we may just get on the subject of worship, and how one worships God.

Those of us in our “congregation” come from all walks of life, and worship in at least five or six different churches on Sundays.

Three or four worked for the tire plant for years, one is actually a genuine, bona fide pastor–and he played for Bear Bryant giving him added credibility in this part of the country–, another was a band director, one a professor at the university, another a real estate broker, and others are still working, or semi-retired.

Every one of them is into Scripture, some more deeply than others as in any congregation.

Some are more garrulous than others. All respect and have a profound sense of Christian love for one another.

We are in fact, a small Christian community of believers, just as the first Christians were, all learning from each other.

We are not a “men’s” group, although we understand that in some issues we can better confess and support each other because we are men.

We haven’t yet decided to ordain our leader, John Belcher, and make him the Bishop of the Church of Chick Fil A, but it might be a good idea.

The next thing you know we’ll be on Facebook and going viral on YouTube.

But then Bishop John might start passing around a collection plate for a salary. This will make for a good discussion next time we meet.

How the natural world sometimes gets in the way of our spiritual lives, or, even better, how they intersect.

Published as “Holding Service at the Church of the Chick fil A,” Sunday December 21, 2014, in my OpEd column, The Port Rail, in The Tuscaloosa News