Monday, October 25, 2010

Be Good At Something Different...

In ministry, most churches and leaders try to be good at what everyone else is good at doing. We’re trying to improve our preaching, youth groups, children’s curriculum, worship, campus ministry, etc.

The problem is that we’re not blessed with the same gifts or called to the same types of ministries. Why not give ourselves permission to be good at something that few other churches and leaders are striving to do?

Maybe we can be phenomenal at doing a sports ministry with immigrant kids in local apartment complexes, sponsoring parties for mentally challenged people in your community, or impacting the world through mentoring the next generation of Kingdom leaders. Maybe we’re called to serving our community with radical generosity, doing evangelism through Facebook, or leveraging your wealthy suburban church to support the planting of a church in another city's inner city.

Rather than being good at the usual ministries... what if we attempted to be good at something we’re uniquely positioned to do. Be good at something different!

What is something different you (or your ministry) can do?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Convicted Civility...

"One of the real problems in modern life is that the people who are good at being civil often lack strong convictions, and people who have strong convictions often lack civility." - Martin Marty

We need both a civil outlook and a "passionate intensity" about our convictions... thus, a "convicted civility."

Monday, October 11, 2010

To Scoot Or Not To Scoot...

This recent post by Jon Acuff made me laugh. No one casts a more entertaining and knowledgeable eye on church-world than Jon. And as someone who has stood at the microphone and asked people to "Please scoot to the middle," I'm intrigued with the whole scoot or no scoot conversation.

There are two types of people in the world: those who will sit in a seat that’s not theirs at an event and those who won't.

I am in the "won't" category. If I have tickets for the nosebleed section at a concert, that's where I sit. I can't sneak down front and sit in better seats without constantly thinking the rightful owner of that seat is about to show up at any moment. And he's probably an Ultimate Fighter with his concealed weapon permit.

Plus, when you get caught you have to pretend you didn't know you're $10 tickets didn't permit you to sit on the front row. "Wait a second, this is row #1? Let me look at my ticket. Oh, would you look at that! I'm in row #1,000. Simple mistake on my part. Whoops!"

I can't do it. I can't be that guy, which is why I like the seating arrangement at most churches. No one has a ticket. Each Sunday morning is a seat free for all. And it all comes to a head when one of the ministers or elders says one thing:

"Please scoot to the middle so people who just got here can squeeze in."

But every time I hear that phrase three things go through my head:

1. The scoot rewards bad behavior.

I got here early. I've got the end of the aisle on lockdown. If I scoot, people who come late are going to be rewarded for their late behavior. Like a hamster receiving a delicious nut when it presses a lever, they'll associate lateness with primo end of aisle seating. That's perpetuating bad behavior.

2. Can we all vote on a better word than "scoot"?

"Scoot" sounds like a cartoon, make-em up word from Ponyville, the home of My Little Pony. That's a word I want Papa Smurf saying, not one of my church's leaders. I say we change scoot, to "slide." That sounds cool and almost like a hip hop move or a wedding dance that your crazy Aunt always does at the reception.

3. Is this a Boundaries moment?

In their book, "Boundaries," Cloud and Townsend detail healthy boundaries we all need to draw in our lives when it comes to personal relationships and the way we let people treat us. Is there anyway that when someone comes to my aisle and tries to get me to slide, I can just say, "Sorry dude, boundaries?"

4. This is the only place on the planet where the scoot works.

Try to get someone to scoot at a high school football game. Or in a Starbucks. With your coffee and a smile, just walk up to a hip couch and say to a stranger, "Will you please scoot to the middle?" That probably won't be awkward.

5. Can I rescoot if no one comes?

If I do scoot and no one comes, can I rescoot or descoot and claim my previously surrender seat territory? Does that make someone I scooted next to in the middle feel smelly? It's not that they're smelly, they might be wearing Coolwater cologne for all I know, but I like I little space between me and the next guy, a "Baptist buffer" if you will. Can I rescoot?

Fortunately, you are not like me. You will not think these things in church. You do not spend moments of your life thinking about the consequences of "scooting." I'm proud of you, I really am.

But be honest, do you scoot when called upon to scoot?

Monday, October 4, 2010

How Should A Christian Respond To Bad Customer Service...

Ron Edmondson got me thinking about a Christian's example in the marketplace with this recent post. Should Christ-followers complain about bad customer service, or accept whatever kind of service we receive with a smile?

As a former business owner, I am a huge proponent for treating a customer well. I don’t know that I would say the customer is always right, but the goal should certainly be that they leave feeling good about their experience. Customer service is the front door of any business (or church). Because of that, I tip well, I express appreciation and I always have a desire to make the waiter or waitresses day better, not worse than before I came. I want to encourage and reward good service and I realize that there could always be personal reasons why a person gives bad service on a particular day. I am always perplexed, however, as to the way to respond when I receive bad service.

One night this week, my small group ate together at a local restaurant. From our first encounter, we knew our waiter did not want to be there. He was obviously impatient and snappy with his responses. It wasn’t the worst customer service I’ve ever received, but it was obviously not one of the best. When a large group recognizes the tension in a waiter, it’s probably a good indicator that service is less than excellent. It reminded me, especially with the pressure of my small group around me, that I don’t always know how to respond.

What kind of customer should a Christian be?

Do Christians have a right to complain when their service is bad?

If the waiter or waitress is rude, do we turn the other cheek, or speak the truth in love? Do you tip for bad service and for good? Do you talk to the manager?

How do you respond to bad service... whether it be a restaurant server, your dentist, a customer service representative at a local store, or the person on the other end of the line when you dial a company's customer service department?