Chick-Fil-A & Grace

January 29, 2013 by

Remember last summer’s hand-wringing over Chick-fil-A? People were lining up to boycott or support the fast food chain over their approach to gay people. Everybody was weighing in. Leaders on both sides were making statements and people were falling in line.

Turns out something deeper was going on. Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy reached out to Shane Windmeyer, an outspoken LGBT leader and executive director of  Campus Pride, one of the organizations urging people to boycott Chick-fil-A. While everyone else was slinging hate over chicken sandwiches, Dan and Shane were having a conversation.

Shane wrote about that relationship on Huffington Post yesterday, explaining why his organization was dropping their boycott.

It reads like a how-to manual for conflict:

We learned about each other as people with opposing views, not as opposing people.

It’s an incredible story that’s way better than last year’s drama-filled headlines. As our churches continue to deal with difficult and controversial issues, let’s take a page from how Dan Cathy and Shane Windmeyer dealt with this one. A few quick lessons:

  1. This was no PR stunt. This was about patiently moving forward together, not scoring some better headlines.
  2. Consider the guts this took on both sides. Sitting down to get to know your enemy is not how things are done these days.
  3. Imagine the long term good that can come from this. Windmeyer has been working on this boycott for a decade (?!).
  4. Sometimes a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort is more effective than any damage control.
  5. It’s easy to respond in anger, to focus on hate, to emphasize how you’ve been wronged. It’s harder to sit down together with mutual respect and understanding. A lot harder.
Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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6 Responses to “Chick-Fil-A & Grace”

  • Jon Stolpe
    January 30, 2013

    Great post! This is the kind of stuff you don’t hear in the news, but it’s worth sharing. Thank you.

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    • Justincazel
      February 10, 2013

      This is so true in so many areas. Not just the church. But think about what could happen in the PC(USA) if both sides (because in reality, the ordination issues are strictly about homosexuality and nothing to do with civil rights) sat down and talked peacefully and openly. Now we are just chasing half of our congregations away. We need to see things for the other’s perspective.

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  • David
    January 30, 2013

    It feels like Shane’s being played. I hope not.

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    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      January 31, 2013

      For Dan Cathy to be playing Shane in this scenario would be pathological. I get that this story is incredible and hard to believe. But it’s not something you can fake.

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  • I have even more respect for Dan Cathy now. It really is hard to do what he did. I wish everyone in the church would show Jesus’ love for people who are hard to love, too. If He forgave the people killing Him, we can forgive people boycotting us.


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