Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Use All Your Senses

American Bounty vegetable soup calls for ten vegetables, all of which require different cooking times synchronized to the same end time. The students at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) start with clarified butter in a pan and begin sweating leeks, then onions, and then garlic. The instructor makes a critical statement to the class:

"You're cooking with your eyes, you're cooking with your nose, you're cooking with your ears - all your senses."

At first, the vegetables sizzle in the butter - mostly raw, but on their way to being ready. Almost there - and finally, fully developed. Breathe in the aroma and you are amazed at the change.

Each stage was distinct and would alter the flavor of the final product. Celery and carrots, cut into perfect dimensions so they would cook uniformly. Corn, lima beans, turnips, and potatoes, added at the appropriate time and the result? A great soup, with distinct flavors, textures, and aromas.

It seems to me that ChurchWorld, in some ways, should be a lot like that soup. The experiences we create should engage all our senses in the right sequence and timing.

If your goal is to create a space and an experience that will positively impact people you must first plan and evaluate it from the perspective of its quality. You start that process by examining the daily places and routines in the offices, retail, and recreation spaces of the people you are trying to reach. The homes they live in, the offices they work in and the stores they shop in communicate a level of expectation they have for their space.

One subtle but powerful expression of this expectation is in our five classical senses: Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. Leonardo da Vinci reflected sadly that the average human “looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eats without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odor or fragrance, and talks without thinking.” How can the church capture the powerful experiences of our senses and utilize them in their facilities?

Maybe it takes a little "common sense."

Here’s where the “common sense” comes into play. Just like the business you frequent often, churches delivering experiences that exceed guest’s expectations are those to which people return, again and again, until they’re no longer guests but full-fledged members of the church community. When a guest thinks “Wow!” it is because he or she feels affirmed or valued. The church has said, “You matter.”

While you may not be trying to sell a product, your guest (and potential member) is very much “shopping” for a church. More important, they are shopping for a spiritual experience that addresses their personal needs. Why not make sure you do all in your power to make it happen?

Company’s coming – are you ready to “WOW” them? Use your common sense to engage all of your guest’s senses and their first impression will be a positive – and lasting one.

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