“The Hatch’

Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

I had the privilege last week of visiting “The Hatch”.  Chick-fil-a’s home office, now called ‘Support Center’, has a warehouse dedicated to innovation.  Thus, the name “The Hatch”.  Many an idea has been launched, explored, reworked, failed and succeeded at “The Hatch”.

John Wesley, as far as I know, didn’t work at any place like “The Hatch” but he was, without a doubt, an innovator.  Taking his preaching to the common person on the street, in the fields…outside his beloved Anglican Church was innovative.  John’s brother, Charles, put words of faith to bar tunes so that the common person could sing with ease of their new found faith.  This is innovation…thinking outside the box in creative ways.

What new idea have we ‘hatched’ in recent weeks?  How many failures can we celebrate?  ‘Celebrating failures’ seems like an oxymoron task.  However, unless we venture out and attempt risky things on behalf of the Kingdom of God, we run the risk of being stuck in a diminishing rut. 

Did you know it took seven years for the ‘Spicy Chicken Sandwich’ to be approved for public consumption?  Innovation is not always quick and easy.  Many failures along the path can lead to successful results.  Striving for excellence in the name of Jesus is not the same as seeking perfection.  We are on our ‘way to perfection’ but leaning into excellence in innovative ways is how effective ministry and mission is discovered.

As a District Superintendent, I see way too many churches that are ‘aging out’ and look nothing like the community in which they are planted.  They have ceased to be innovative.  They are tired and weary.  They are frightened of a dismal future and uncertain what to do next.  They look outside themselves for the answer.  It is a painful process to witness.

I’d suggest we ‘innovate’.  What risky thing could we try?  What fun might we have if we weren’t afraid to fail?  Could we “hatch” something fresh and exciting?  Just the thought of new and innovative ideas might bring a smile to a dying and dusty church community.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the young Christians in Corinth about innovation, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Next time you are in the long drive-thru line at Chick-fil-a, remember such a success didn’t happen overnight.  Remember there were many failures along the way.  But, most importantly, remember if a ‘chicken sandwich’ can be so successful, then surely a new idea for the Kingdom of God has possibility.

Always Thinking,


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