Onward Part 5

Here are another couple of quotes from Howard Schultz’s book “Onward”:

The only number that counts is “one”. One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time.

A store manager’s job is not to oversee millions of customer transactions a week, but one transaction millions of times a week.

Before he retired, my father was in the newspaper business. He sold newspapers in machines and throughout the naval base in Norfolk (the biggest base in the world). He was actually very successful, and provided a nice living for our family. When I was young, my mother would sit watching TV on Sunday night and count money. As my father used to say back then “I make my living a nickel and a dime at a time.” Hundreds of dollars in nickles and dimes passed through our house and through my mother’s hands every week.

When you make your money a nickel and a dime at a time, you understand the importance of each sale. My father new his customers. He new to order more papers when there was a big story breaking. He knew to order more when an aircraft carrier was coming in from deployment. Like Schultz, he understood the importance of one. Too bad it was one newspaper instead of one cup of coffee – we could have been rich!

So what does this have to do with church growth and multiplication? Churches grow one person at a time. Every person walking in the door is important. I spoke at Crossroads this morning (the church where I used to pastor). I was reminded what a great job that church does of greeting each person who comes in. There are people positioned near the entrance to greet people, others who track who is here, who is new, who is here for the second or third  time. And they honestly make people feel important and cared for. This is the power of one at work.

All churches want to grow. But so many don’t treat guests very well. I know this, I am in a different church every week. It is amazing how poorly some churches do at this very simple task of making every single person feel welcomed. They don’t seem to understand that “experience” which Schultz talks about throughout the book. Starbucks provides more than coffee, they provide an experience. Church shold be the same way. We should be providing an experience of God’s Kingdom, and a connection with God himself. We will only do that well when we understand the importance of one person.

Ramblings on Communication

I am looking forward to spending the afternoon with Scott Vaughan http://www.svministry.com/  a communications guru for churches. Scott helps churches optimize their communications systems (newsletters, email, etc.) , make good use of social media and work on “branding”. One of the first things I realized when I came into the position as Director of Missions for the Peninsula Baptist Association was that almost all of our systems were outdated and antiquated.

And, to make matters worse, what we were communicating through our website was all wrong. Our association has made a paradigm shift from a “Denominational Agency” that creates ministries for the church to support, to a “Network of Churches” supported by an associational staff whose primary role is to equip those churches to grow the kingdom of God.

Hopefully Scott is going to help us communicate that better. We have already taken a few baby steps. First, I began this blog – not to point to me and what I am doing, but as a resource to church plants and churches committed to growth and multiplication. Second, we have established a presence on Facebook (so far way under used by us). And I typically use my Twitter posts to promote the work of our churches. Hopefully we will be making many other changes in the coming weeks.

Scott will be staying over to do a conference tomorrow morning for church leaders who want to learn more about “The New Paradigm of Church Communication”. I am excited that a good number of people have signed up. What surprises me though is the majority of our churches that simply aren’t interested in improving their communications. And, to put it bluntly, these are often the churches who need it the most. It’s not too late to come. Just show up at our office (863 Cloverleaf Lane, Newport News) at 9 AM with 30 bucks in your hand and you are in.

Onward #4

As I continue to plow through the book “Onward” by Howard Schultz I keep seeing key insights for church leaders. Here’s another quote:

“As I locked up the Pike’s Place store I considered what needed to be done starting that day: muster a collective faith in the original Starbucks experience – our purpose and reason for being – and then refocus our company on the customers instead of breakneck growth. But that faith was not something I could demand. I had to ask for it and, ultimately, earn it, day after day.”

Schultz has a habit of occasionally going to the Pike’s Place store (the original store in the chain) early in the morning before any body gets there. It reminds him of where they came from. In this quote he mentions “the original Starbucks experience”. I was in a conversation the other day with Glenn Akins, Assistant Executive Director of the Virginia Baptist Mission Board www.vbmb.org. Glenn is a smart guy and real guru in the area of Multi-Site Churches. Glenn mentioned that Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee, it sells an experience. And he is right. Schultz mentions this throughout the book. There are certain sights, sounds and smells that combine together with taste that Starbucks intentionally built into this experience. Part of what Schultz began to do in 2008 was to try to recapture this experience.

He speaks about “refocusing” on this experience which is their “purpose and reason for being”. I am also reading Aubrey Malphurs book “The Nuts and Bolts of Church Planting” http://tinyurl.com/3e9onyg. In it, Malphurs states: “My experience in working with established churches over the years is that far too many don’t know where they are going. They’ve lost sight of their mission.” I have to say I agree with Malphurs (and Schultz) that occasionally we have to revisit our roots and rediscover why we are doing what we are doing. Otherwise we can focus on all of the wrong things.

Schultz also mentions a “faith” (interesting choice of words) that needs to be recaptured. This faith is “not something I could demand… but must earn it day after day.” As leaders, we can’t force our people to comply, to follow, to even trust our leadership. There may have been a time in church life where positional authority was strong, not any more. The Pastor must prove himself day after day to earn the people’s trust. This is particularly true in newer churches and churches with younger memberships.

I meet monthly with a group of pastors who are committed to revitalizing their churches. This would be a good lesson for them. To turn things around, we need to rediscover our purpose and mission. We need to focus our energies on that mission. We need to work hard every day to earn the right to lead our people. And then we need to lead!

Here is an assignment for pastors. Get to your place of worship early next Sunday, before everyone else arrives. Look around and ask yourself:
What kind of experience do we want to create for people here today?
What is our purpose? our mission? our focus?
What can I do today to earn more of the trust of the people in my church as their leader?
What does God expect from us today? What does he want to give us today?