I haven’t posted to this blog in a while. I have been busy trying to get my book ready to publish. The book is entitled: “What Happened to Our Church?” with the subtitle “And where do we go from here?
I really believe this book will be helpful, particularly to churches facing changing. It is primarily addressed to people in more traditional churches that have not successfully changed with the times. I offer a lot of explanation as to why their church is in the circumstances it is in, and I offer options for change.
This project came out of the many consultations I have with traditional churches in my work. Hopefully, the book will be in print (and digital?) early in 2015.
In the business world, we often hear that it is the bottom line that counts. I want to suggest that the front line is even more important. By front line I mean the person I actually deal with in your organization. They may be the person at the door, the sales counter, on the phone. If they don’t see the big picture or care about keeping me as a customer, your company loses.
I am in the middle of one of those situations with Tracker Marine, the company I bought my boat from last year. After becoming frustrated with the local service department I called corporate. And of course the woman I spoke with was very apologetic, agreeing that the local guys shouldn’t have lied to me twice. She got on it, and it seems my problem is being resolved. But in a way, it is too little too late. I already have a bad taste in my mouth. The negative impression is now there. They will have a hard time rebuilding my trust, or having me recommend them to friends.
As usual, I want to apply this to churches. It doesn’t matter how much your leadership believes in good hospitality when it comes to welcoming guests, if the rest of the people don’t see that big picture, or care how the guest feels. There must be a culture of hospitality that runs deep throughout the congregation. Otherwise, one rude comment or inconsiderate action can ruin the whole experience for a first time guest.
Peggy and I just finished a brief e-book called “First Impressions – Why First Time Guests Return to Some Church but Not to Others”. As the title suggests, it deal with this very issue. I haven’t yet decided how to distribute it (and am waiting copyright approval). But, if you are interested in a pre-distribution copy let me know. Just promise not to duplicate it while I figure out the rest of the process.
As a church consultant, I find that some of the most effective tools in my box are good, strategic questions. Good questions are always clear and easy to present, but often difficult to answer. As a big fan of Will Mancini www.willmancini.com, I often use his five questions to discover where a congregation is. Here are those questions:
The mission question: What are we doing? Mancini says that the trouble with most pastors is that they lead from a general sense of mission, rather than a clearly focused sense of mission.
The value question: Why are we doing it? Our values are our motives that guide our actions reveal our strengths.
The strategy question: How are we doing it? Can you draw a “napkin sketch” that illustrates your “how”? Mancini says that we often confuse ministry means with ministry ends. When we are not clear, we tend to measure our means rather than our ends.
The measures question: When are we successful? He states that a lot of churches just count attendance and income. Circuses can count these – what makes your church different from a circus.
The vision question: Where is God taking us? This is unique to every church (hence, Mancini’s book “Church Unique”).
So next time your team is debating some proposed activity or new ministry, it may be helpful to fall back on these questions before making the decision.