Everything Matters! – Mike Hill
A while ago, I picked up a book which was the story of the coffee shop chain, Starbucks.* I enjoyed the book very much and was fascinated by the know-how that had been invested, not just in making coffee, but also in their attempts to make coffee drinking an experience in their shops. Judging by their performance as a business, they are doing something right!
One chapter in the book particularly gripped my imagination. It was entitled, “Everything Matters.” The point of the chapter was to underline that what we say, and the way that we say it, and what we do, and the way that we do it, really matters. In other words, everything communicates something – good or bad about us or our organisation or our church.
And this really matters. If it’s true in our world where image trumps substance and fake news abounds, people are searching for something authentic that carries integrity.
Think about your church. Is it’s mission and message backed up by it’s organisational culture? Notice boards, weekly bulletins and the dreaded “notices,” section of the service abound with messages that boldly announce, “all are welcome.” But in reality, is it true?
Having taken hundreds of church weekends throughout my life, I have never met a local church that didn’t describe itself as friendly. My suggestion was always to test that characteristic of self identity by talking to the people who only ever visited the church once! Too often the now mandatory coffee after the service becomes an opportunity for people to chat with their friends. This feels like clique behaviour to visitors.
I recall when my children were young and we would attend a church on holiday, we would park ourselves in a pew often to be told that we couldn’t sit there because that was where Mr X sat! On the whole, the kids were pretty well behaved, but occasionally they either dropped or knocked a book off the (all too narrow) shelf. Such accidents were sometimes met by people turning to stare at us with disapproval written across their faces. All this after we had been assured that we were very welcome! It just didn’t feel like that.
Some leaders will tell me that they want to be “in the community” but then will talk about the community as ‘them’. If we create an “us and them” dynamic, we will find it very difficult to be warmly accepted into the community.
Thank God that many churches are waking up to this and are doing amazing things to serve their communities. Many are seeing their efforts in the community as “amazing grace” without expecting anything in return but find that there is a return because true grace is transformative.
When we get back from church closures because of Covid 19, it is possible that some people who have seen our online efforts may pay us a visit. Many pastors I have spoken to are telling me that far more people watch their church services than ever turn up in their church! There will be baptisms and dedications to catch up on, thanksgiving services for the lives of those who died during the Covid crisis and postponed marriages to be conducted.
Remember, everything matters!
My sense is that we need to start planning now for how we will need to change to meet the challenge of this moment. How could our weddings, dedications, baptisms and thanksgiving services for the lives of loved ones be made even better? How might we better harness the potential of online content to reach out to more people? How might the technology be better used to teach and disciple our members? How can we help our friends become members?
As I write, I believe the Church is making a difference to the lives of thousands of people who have had little or no contact with us before. Thank you for the amazing way you have reacted to this new situation in which we find ourselves. This could be a moment of new connection. Let’s do what we can to seize the moment.
CEO GLN UK & Ireland
*The Starbucks Experience by Joseph A Michelli, published by McGraw Hill.
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