Go to Church, Get Free Chicken

March 8, 2006 by

I thought the whole church and business marketing tie-in thing would die down, but it just keeps coming. This time it’s from the business side, with a Chick-fill-A restaurant offering free sandwiches for church bulletins.

Perhaps the McPassion wasn’t so far fetched.

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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 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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20 Responses to “Go to Church, Get Free Chicken”

  • mr. furious
    March 9, 2006

    i’m in. i don’t even go to church, but i’ll get a hold of some bulletins for a sandwich.

  • Maec A. Pitman
    March 9, 2006

    I’m a pastor in Maine. Our local Quizno’s just offered some weird deal. Something about people bringing in church bulletins, Quizno’s stamping their receipts, them bringing the receipts to me, and the chuch getting 10% of what they spent.
    Too convoluted for me!

  • Marc A. Pitman
    March 9, 2006

    Wow. I didn’t even spell my name correctly. I think I’ll go for my second cup of coffee!

  • John I. Carney
    March 9, 2006

    It’s very common, here in Tennessee, for family-oriented restaurants catering to the after-church crowd to offer a discount for bringing in a church bulletin. That’s been around for years. It has nothing to do with the churches; it’s just a gimmick for the restaurant to bring in business and position itself as wholesome and family-friendly.
    I’ve never heard about it with a fast food place, though.
    It’s also nothing new or surprising for Chick-fil-A to have religious marketing tie-ins. They’ve sponsored the Dove Awards and various types of Christian music concert tours in the past. I’m assuming that you’re already familiar with the chain and its closed-on-Sunday policy.

  • Paul
    March 9, 2006

    Also not surprising about chicfila because they are owned by a christian and aren’t open on sundays. Me a several other of my friends have been going there every monday for a year or so. Works for me

  • matthew Smith
    March 9, 2006

    Does anyone else feel a little uneasy about Churches being used for the marketing schemes of corporations? In the world or of it? I dunno. Just feel a little strange about offering a benefit like that for coming to church? God’s boring, but sandwiches are good! Sounds like something Rev. Lovejoy would do.

  • Brandon Meek
    March 9, 2006

    I don’t think this is a big deal at all. Basically, they are saying, tell us you go to church and we’ll give you free sandwich. Whats the harm in that?

  • Warren
    March 9, 2006

    I’ve seen this type of thing done for years. Many places do it to drive business on Sundays (though obviously that isn’t CFA’s motivation). As long as they don’t start printing coupons in the bulletins, I really don’t see a problem with this.

  • Vinny
    March 9, 2006

    We just found out that a local establishment has a Sunday brunch; they don’t offer discounts for bulletins, but if you bring one in they’ll send $1 back to your church or something.
    But the best(?) part is that clergy eat for free.
    When my wife was ordained, the bishop mentioned that you shouldn’t go into the ministry looking for the “clergy discount”. While we don’t go out of our way to find places like this, it’s sometimes nice.

  • RC
    March 9, 2006

    Better not take very personal notes in your bullentin that might get you in trouble later…yikes!!!
    –RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

  • Veer
    March 9, 2006

    Hey some of the chick-fil-a’s in GA have been doing this for years. Lots of people don’t even know. I know folks who have a family night with other church fams every Monday night.
    It’s a business and they’re rewarding you for having gone to church. Your bulletin is a coupon. You go to church, they get your business, everyone’s a winner.
    Yeah, some may argue that what about people who go to synagogue or a mosque, what if they brought in their bulletin. I’d say chick-fil-a would give them the same deal…it’s just about driving business, not pushing religion.

  • bnpositive
    March 9, 2006

    I don’t see how/why anyone would have a problem with it. Many sports teams will have cross promotions with restaurants after games where the team wins, etc. Or some restaurants give a discount if you bring in your movie ticket stub after you see a movie. As far as Chic-Fil-A focusing on the Christian demographic, I think as Christians we should voluntarily support other organizations that promote our similiar viewpoints and worldviews. As for the pastor who didn’t accept the 10% cash back from a restaurant because it was too “convoluted” for him. I wonder how he’d feel if his churchgoers decided remembering to tithe and write their checks each week was too convoluted too.

  • bnpositive
    March 9, 2006

    What’s even more amazing is the “convoluted” pastor has an “Extreme Fundraising Blog” link on his website!

  • Juan Peron
    March 9, 2006

    I love the idea. I think the church should be able to have a very healthy and open relationship with the marketplace. To not be of the world is not to act as if it isn’t there.
    My only peeve is that we don’t do “bulletins” at my church. Maybe I can get credit for demonstrating Christ-likeness?

  • glenn
    March 9, 2006

    I love me some Chick-Fil-A . . .
    They’re a Christian outfit, too.

  • It doesn’t seem like a big deal. They probably give coupons for a free sandwich with a combo meal, too. Asking for a bulletin is just a way to make church-goers feel good about the chain. I’m sure all kinds of Christians have bulletins– but are they reaching out to Muslim’s and other religious also? Is it only for “Church Bulletins” or also “Mosque Bulletins?”

  • john mulholland
    March 11, 2006

    I’d say that this post pretty much blew up in his face. Those if us who are chick-fil-a fans are aware of the integrity of the business itself. I agree with every other poster here, let them do as they wish and pick on another company.

  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    March 12, 2006

    Hey Josh–how did this post blow up in my face? I wrote three sentences pointing out another example of church and business marketing comingling. I didn’t give any opinions about it, I just threw it out there and let people talk about it.
    I did connect it to the McPassion, but more than anything that’s just connecting dots between one example of church/business marketing and another. You can decide how close or how far apart they are.

  • Neil Daily
    March 14, 2006

    My church is a block away from a Chick-fil-A. We have people come in Sunday morning, grab a few bulletins, and head right back out the door.
    Of course, that’s when our ushers tackle them and take back the bulletins. No stay, no Chick-fil-A. …All done in Christian love, naturally.

  • Rev. Jonathon Edwards
    November 20, 2007

    I love Chik-Fil-A, but the closest one to me is 30 miles and I try not to drive my car as much as possible. So. No chik-fil-a. Very sad.
    The issue here, in my mind, is not on Chik-fil-a’s end. The issue is on the church’s end and specifically, the church goers who take advantage of this “benefit” and the effect it has on the church’s thinking about how to evanglise.
    Secular marketing practices rely on deception and manipulation to increase sales. Create a fictional need and then fill it with your product. Trickery, lies, deception.
    In this case, chik fil a is saying, through this “discount”, “look, we’re just like you, good Christian folk, come buy our sandwiches instead of those godless McRibs”. But there is nothing Christian about selling sandwiches, no matter how you slice the bird.
    THEN, Christians look at what chik fil a is doing, think that “hey, they’re Christian, what a great idea lets do that in our church”. And we’re off and running.
    There are some good things we can learn from the secular world, but values and meaning is not one of them. That’s what makes this kind of scheme dangerous. Not from chik fil a’s end, but from the church’s response to it.

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