Chick-fil-A on being a Missionary in the Workplace

Lost in the recent “scandal” over the revelations that family-run Chick-fil-A supports marriage (shocking, isn’t it?) were the other words of President and CEO Dan Cathy.  Cathy expects that Christians will be missionaries to the world wherever they are:

Cathy believes strongly that Christians are missionaries in the workplace. “Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community,” he said

While representatives of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation will claim this is “code speak” for Christians taking over the world, this is how Cathy explained what he meant:

His goal in the workplace is “to take biblical truth and put skin on it. … We’re talking about how our performance in the workplace should be the focus of how we build respect, rapport and relationships with others that opens the gateway to interest people in knowing God.

“All throughout the New Testament there is an evangelism strategy related to our performance in the workplace. … Our work should be an act of worship. Our work should be our mission field. As long as we are stateside, let’s don’t think we have to go on mission trips by getting a passport. … If you’re obedient to God you are going to be evangelistic in the quality of the work you do, using that as a portal to share [Christ],” he said.

While many may still think “missionary” means getting on a boat to Africa, Cathy’s explanation is not unique.  Most modern Christians recognize their roles as “missionaries” of their life evangelism to whatever place they happen to be. That evangelism takes the form of our work as an act of worship in its quality, respect, rapport, and relationships.  One of the things people mean when they talk about being a “missionary at work” is being good at work — having the high quality performance to back up a Christian reputation.

This understanding of the Christian faith is apparently too nuanced for Michael Weinstein, Chris Rodda, and Richard Baker, however, who are quick to claim that calling the US military a “mission field” is somehow illegal or otherwise deplorable.  (Actually, Rodda more frequently cites the phrase “ambassadors for Christ in uniform” as an implication of illegal conduct on the part of Christians in the military.  Her vitriol obscures the fact she’s failed to consider what an ambassador actually does.)

Regardless of the critics, the call for the Christian today is constant, as described by Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson), R.G. LeTourneau, and alluded to by Richard LandMike Huckabee, and even Tim Tebow:  Be a living witness of Christ to your fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines (and Coast Guardsmen).  That can start as simply as being the best at your job you can be.

As an aside, the uproar over Cathy’s comments about marriage was accurately broken down at the Baptist Press, which basically said many of the people most likely to be criticizing the company or calling for a boycott don’t even have a store they can boycott, and they’ve probably never had the pleasure of waffle fries:

The company also likely will thrive because its base remains in conservative states…Five states have more than 100 restaurants, and they’re all in the South. North Carolina, which has 143 Chick-fil-A restaurants, passed a constitutional marriage amendment in May defining marriage as between a man and a woman. By contrast, the entire state of New York has one Chick-fil-A restaurant. Washington state doesn’t have any. Neither does Oregon. Or Vermont. This means that many of those calling for a boycott don’t have a restaurant in their area to boycott — and they’ve likely never been to a Chick-fil-A.

In response to the negative outcry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has declared “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” for next Wednesday, August 1st.  He is simply calling on people to

affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick-Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we’re considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant…

Huckabee concluded, “There’s no need for anyone to be angry or engage in a verbal battle. Simply affirm appreciation for a company run by Christian principles by showing up on Wednesday, August 1 or by participating online — tweeting your support or sending a message on Facebook.”

Anybody feel like a spicy chicken sandwich and a handspun shake?  More than 75,000 already do…

Also at the Baptist Press. Photo from Chick-fil-A.