View From The Shore #5: Duck Donuts & The Main Thing (A Mustard Seed Musing)

Early in the morning (for me, anyway), I headed out for the Duck Donuts experience. Arriving by 8 a.m., I stood in line for close to a half hour to collect the ‘bucket’ of donuts my family would dine on for breakfast. Made from scratch (a la Krispy Kreme) in front of me, each donut was crafted ‘made to order’. [For the record, they were all delicious.] And as different moments have pointed to me this week, I was struck by the shop’s ability to keep their “main thing the main thing.”

A few years ago, a youth minister friend of mine (Joe Torrence) talked about the beauty of Chick-fil-A. You go to Chick-fil-A if you want chicken. You can get it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can’t get beef; you can’t get the lobster roll. But if you’re in the mood for fried chicken, and you can’t get to Zaxby’s (or stomach KFC), you go to Chick-fil-A. And people line up in extraordinarily long lines to get their chicken (and maybe their sweet tea and milkshakes, too)!

The same principle was in play at Duck Donuts this morning. Dunkin Donuts is down the street; there’s a Starbucks in Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills Coffee, too. But people were willing to line up for THIRTY MINUTES and wind around a line outside of the store to get their donuts. Because Duck Donuts does donuts and they do them well.

Back to Joe. Joe proposed that the church(es) should consider what they do so well that people would line up to come, and then come back for more. Could it be the donuts? Well, okay, the fellowship? Could it be the discipleship and openness to questions/learning? Could it be the worship experience and the depth of music and art? Could it be the family focus, or the elderly focus? Could it be the mission, aimed at improving the lives of those in its community or around the world?

Sure, McDonald’s has been in business for a long time. Diversifying (the McRib, anyone? And the aforementioned lobster roll, fishamajig, etc.) has served them well in longevity, but people are busting down the door of specialization-focused places like Chick-fil-A. And Duck Donuts. And Krispy Kreme. (You can fill in the blank.) Those other places suffer from a lack of identity, a lack of what makes them significantly stand above the fray, especially in a fast-food world that now boasts the likes of Johnny Rocket’s, Sonic, Hardees, etc.

Our church identity seems to be in flux, too. In a world that wants to define what topics are “ours,” and what topics aren’t, we’re pushed into conversations that are drawn up for us, like homosexuality, alien immigration, science versus faith (emphasis on ‘versus’), etc. If we knew who we were and what we were about in a way that was bold and upfront, there’d be less space to cram us into, because we’d already occupy the ‘market’ we were supposed to be in.

What would it look like if our church was as focused as Chick-fil-A or Duck Donuts? What would it look like if we were known for something, so amazing, that people would line up for hours?


About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at,, and the brand new
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2 Responses to View From The Shore #5: Duck Donuts & The Main Thing (A Mustard Seed Musing)

  1. CH says:

    You mean something as RADICAL as unconditional love and compassion for ALL of our “neighbors”?! But sarcasm aside, as you and I have talked about many times before, “black and white” is easier for most to swallow than “gray” is, and admitting maybe we as humans (maybe even more so an US citizens) don’t actually KNOW all of the answers would mean that maybe we aren’t as powerful as we think we are.


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