Sunday, October 31, 2010

October 31 - More than Halloween

Thank you Martin Luther.

On October 31, 1517, Luther posted 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany - and launched the Protestant Reformation.

For a brief backstory, go here.

The 95 theses contained Luther's opinions of what was going wrong in the Catholic church. Excommunicated from the church and condemned to die, Luther was given protection by Prince Frederick of Germany. For the next 10 years,he worked on another task we should thank him for - the translation of the Bible from Latin (which only a few learned men could read) to German - the language of the people.

Others soon took up the cause, and the "protest" spread to other nations outside of Germany. Soon a new church was spreading across Europe - and the world, changing not only the religious landscape but all civilization as well.

Now almost 500 years later, look how far we have come. So much good, and yet...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

So You Have a Magnetic Personality?

Some people just naturally draw others to them. What's it take to be magnetic? John Maxwell suggests these characteristics as displayed in the life of Peter:
  • Confidence-Peter displayed poise and optimism as a communicator
  • Conviction-Peter knew where he was going and what he had to say
  • Connection-Peter focused not on himself but on others
  • Compassion-Peter exuded warmth and love
When Peter ended his message in Acts 2, everyone asked "What shall we do?" They felt motivated and ready to act. God used Peter's charisma like a magnet.

Just remember that magnets have the unique properties to both attract and repel!

Over in 1 Kings 19, Ahab and Jezebel demonstrated some roadblocks to attracting people. Characteristics like:
  • Pride
  • Insecurity
  • Moodiness
  • Selfishness
  • Perfectionism
  • Cynicism
If you exhibit characteristics like these very long, you will find yourself repelling people from you.

And that's not exactly the type of magnetic personality you were thinking of.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrate the Supernatural!

It’s that time of year again – spooks, goblins, and witches take to the streets on Halloween. Most parents don’t know the origins of Halloween –from ancient Celtic celebrations about the end of summer and the beginning of winter, to the Romanized adaptations of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day, and eventually All Soul’s Day. Consumerism has taken over in books, movies, and a whole industry devoted to the supernatural. In recent years, there has been an increasing involvement of adults in Halloween activities, even those formerly limited to children.

Where should the church stand in all this? I say “Celebrate the Supernatural”!

I’m not a heretic, and I don’t advocate a focus on the dark side of things. I simply encourage you to look at the word “supernatural” and what it should mean for believers.

At its very basic level, supernatural means “above nature”. Is this not a great definition for believers in Christ? We are to be “in the world, but not of it”. But there is an even greater reason that we should celebrate the supernatural, and that is in the area of spiritual gifts.

The scriptural basis for spiritual gifts is found in a few New Testament passages, but our additions to these few verses over the years could fill a small library. I don’t want to enter into a theological debate about gifts – I simply say the Bible teaches us about them, and we should celebrate them by putting them into practice by serving others in God’s name.

Many definitions of spiritual gifts exist, but the one that I have adapted over the years and that resonates most with me is a “supernatural capacity of grace from God, used to serve Him for His purposes”. To me, it is a given that these gifts are from God and to be used by us for His purposes.

Through the Holy Spirit, we have been empowered to carry out His purpose and contribute meaningfully to His body. We know that we belong to Him, that our inherent worth is to be found in Him. He made us, redeemed us, gifted us, and placed us in the body of Christ – the church – just as He chose.

If that’s not “super natural”, I don’t know what is!

How will you celebrate this week?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Creating Experiences, Part 3: People

I've saved the most important part for last.

Recently I was speaking with a group of church leaders about the importance of guest services and creating great experiences that leave a WOW! First Impression. During the Q&A time, one leader asked me the following: "All this is well and good, but my church has limited resources - we can't possibly do all these things (the subjects of the last few posts- here and here) at once. Where do we start?"

My quick answer: always default to people.

In the equation Creating Experiences = Product + Place + People, the most important part, the starting place, the foundation which all is is built on - it's people.

Starbucks may have a good product lineup; it may offer the most comfortable, friendly place to hang out alone or with friends. But neither product nor place have any traction without the people greeting you with a smile, asking what you would like (maybe suggesting something new), and then servicing you with speed, excellence, and always a smile. You have to have a great team in place first before you can begin to deliver excellent experiences.

The same is true in ChurchWorld: the experiences that you are attempting to create, the places and spaces in which they are housed - both literally and figuratively - are important.

But you don't get anywhere without the people.

When an organization helps its team members bring pride, excellence, and playfulness to every aspect of their task, those team members literally have the chance to change the lives of those around them.

People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be a part of something that touches their hearts.

Everything matters - but everyone matters more.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Creating Experiences, Part 2: Places

At Starbucks, people come into a comfortable setting where they are valued on a personal level, and where a meaningful connection is made. Everything the company does is intended to give the customer a positive, uplifting experience while purchasing a quality beverage or food item.

To achieve this, the ambiance of the store must be inviting: it must be a place where a person will feel comfortable hanging out alone or with friends. This setting, often referred to as the "third place" (a phrase coined by sociologist Ray Oldham) must capture a unique warmth that sets it apart from the first two places in most people's lives: work and home.

Hit the pause button.

Would creating such environments at your church be something worth doing? Is it time to "get physical"?

Think like a designer - be an environmental architect

Just as an architect asks a number of questions before designing a building, church leaders who want to be environmental architects must ask questions to reveal the function of the space, which in term determine its design.

If you were to own the architectural responsibility for every environment in your church, you should be asking questions like:
  • What's the purpose of this environment?
  • Who will use this environment?
  • What do we want people to experience?
  • What do we want people to leave with?
  • Who's responsible for quality control?
Mark Waltz, connections pastor at Granger Community Church, has thoughtfully developed this concept in his book "Lasting Impressions". Elaborating on the questions above, he further defines environments through the lenses of four types of space: public, social, personal, and intimate. The several pages of this discussion are worth the price of the book alone!

Another description of environments that you are probably familiar with is North Point Community Church and its use of rooms in a house.
  • The foyer is a place where you welcome guests
  • The living rooms is a place where you develop friends
  • The kitchen is a place where you are loved as family
Now just in case you were wondering, this concept of space is not limited to physical place. Environments (the physical kind) matter very much. But a good environmental architect is also creating psychological space in much the same way.

You're on a journey to create experiences that keep people coming back. Yesterday we looked at product; today at quick view of place. Tomorrow, it's all about people.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Creating Experiences, Part 1: Product

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog before probably knows of my passion for guest services in the church. If you’re new, here’s an introduction. For those veterans, I’m introducing a 3-part post on Creating Experiences, Starbucks style – and what your church (or any people-focused organization) can learn.

In just a three sentences, here is what the Green Apron Book (the customer service guide for Starbucks) says about experience:

Creating the experience that keeps people coming back relies on the magical combination of three things: our products, our places, and our people.

They come for the coffee, stay for the inviting warmth, and return for the various human connections.

Now go ahead, welcome your next new regular!

With just a couple of words substituted, do you wish the same thing could be said for your church? It can – with the right focus on products, places, and people.


Q: What business is Starbucks in?
A: It may not be what you think!

Here’s a quote from founder and current CEO Howard Schultz:

We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee. The equity of the Starbucks brand is the humanity and intimacy of what goes on in the communities…We continually are reminded of the powerful need and desire for human contact and community, which is a new, powerful force in determining consumer choices…The Starbucks experience has become as important as the coffee itself.

Q: What business is your church in?

You didn’t think I was going to answer that for you, did you? Only you and your leadership team can answer that, but I am suggesting your church is in the people business. Your church doesn’t manufacture and sell an object, but you do seek to produce something: changed lives.

The “raw materials” you start with are the pinnacle of God’s creation – after all, we are made in His image. But even so, we are all in process. Somewhere between birth and death, all of us are on a journey. Your church needs to balance the frailty and possibility of everyone you encounter, and create experiences that accept them where they are, challenge them to move toward where they need to be, and walk with them along the way.

Churches that understand their “product” and create vital, life-changing experiences – those are the churches that are making a difference in our world today.

What are you creating at your church?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Experience vs. Efficiency: The Winner is...

Starbucks wants to make sure you savor the experience offered in its stores, even if it means waiting a little longer.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Starbucks will soon roll out new guidelines for its baristas that may cause longer wait times for your favorite white chocolate mocha (okay, that's my favorite, but you get the idea).

Amid customer complaints that the Seattle-based coffee chain has reduced the fine art of coffee making to a mechanized process with all the romance of an assembly line, Starbucks baristas are being told to stop making multiple drinks at the same time and focus instead on no more than two drinks at a time—starting a second one while finishing the first.

Front line baristas are worried that the new guidelines will increase wait times, thus fueling the possibility of customer backlash - directed at the baristas. The corporate take is that the guidelines will eventually hasten the way drinks are made and lead to fresher, hotter drinks. Steaming milk for individual drinks, for example, "ensures the quality of the beverage in taste, temperature and appearance," the company documents state, while focusing on just two drinks at a time "reduces possibility for errors."

Lessons for ChurchWorld
  • What is the value you place on the "experience" you are offering guests who come to your church every weekend?
  • Are you tempted to shortcut the process and risk diluting that experience?
  • Do you have systems in place that ensure (as much as possible) that your front-line "employees" focus delivering quality guest services vs. just "doing a job"?
  • Do you have a mechanism in place which allows guests to respond to their experiences, allowing you to continually monitor and improve them?
  • Do you continue review all systems to make sure "ends" and "means" are in their proper place?
  • Do your values permeate throughout your organization, reflecting in both actions and words of your volunteers?
Starbucks is taking a risk, placing the value of "experience" over what seems to be efficiency.

Would your church be willing to do the same?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

No or Know?

In many ways, we are all in sales. As a parent, we want our kids to follow the rules and life principles we teach them. In life, we are constantly interacting with people, many times trying to get them to "see it my way", or to urge them to take a specific action. It may not be a product, but we all have situations in which we are "selling".

What do you do when they say "no"?

Zig Ziglar, well-know author and inspirational speaker has a unique idea to handle the situation:

When someone says no, the successful sales person understands that the “no” must mean the prospect doesn’t “know” enough to make the right decision. Never argue with them. Just understand you haven’t finished your job, and accept the responsibility for going back and providing the information needed. With additional information, they will “know” enough to make a new (and favorable) decision.

Here’s Ziglar's concept that will allow you to handle real objections in an efficient and effective way so you can deal with the "no".

When objections occur, it's time to get Q.U.I.E.T. Each letter stands for a word that will allow you help the individual you are talking with gather enough information to overcome their objections. When you get an objection, you pause and think Q.U.I.E.T.

Q. Begin with a question

U. You must ask questions so you can understand the objection

I. Once you understand the objection, you must identify it

E. To identify the objection and not be fooled by a false objection, you must empathize

T. If you empathize instead of sympathize with the prospect, you are ready to test the objection

If you are successful at addressing their concerns, it's very likely that they are ready to make a new decision based on the additional information you provided.

Facing a "no" today from someone today? It's time to be Q.U.I.E.T.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We All Fail...

...the key is not failing at it.

James Emery White, in a recent post at, has made a great case in realizing how not to fail at failing. His six ways churches fail at failing:
  • Failure to address your failure though innovation until such innovation is pursued out of desperation and in imitation of existing mainstream innovations
  • Failure to address your failure through relocation until that time when relocation is no longer a viable option
  • Failure to address your failure through changes in existing staff
  • Failure to address your failure through a renewed focus on the mission
  • Failure to address your failure by not expanding strategically
  • Failure to address your failure by failing to look in the mirror
Do you fail at failing?

In other words, do you fail to do - in the midst of failing - what needs to be done to stop failing?

For more great thoughts on failing, check out:

How the Mighty Fall, by Jim Collins
Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down, and getting up one more time, without end.

The Dip, by Seth Godin
All our successes are the same; all our failures, too.
We fail when we give up too soon.
We succeed when we are the best in the world at what we do.
We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don't have the guts to quit.

Failing Forward, by John Maxwell
When you learn to fail forward, you won't ever have to give up.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Very Fine Day

Grandparenting across the generations...

Any day that begins with a trip to the mountains to babysit our 2 1/2 year old grandson is a good day. The fact that my daughter (on fall break from divinity school) and our senior in high school joined my wife and me made it even better.

It's a great day when you pull up to the house and upon opening the car door hear squeals of delight from inside the house; opening the front door you are greeted by a full-on onslaught by a Mickey Mouse PJ clad grandson, grinning from ear to ear!

It was a wonderful fall day in Boone. Our trip included the usual "spoiling" kinds of things: field trip to the farmer's market to buy some fresh goods (Jack gets to pay); a stop or two at some stores (usually resulting in some clothes or a book for Jack); lunch (the Mushroom has gone, but Panera was a great second choice), and of course, Saturday afternoon football on TV (he's a big fan).

Along the middle of the afternoon, after a not-so-successful nap (sorry Hallie), Jack and I went outside to enjoy the sunny day. Being guys, we had to take our swords.

For the next 30 minutes, we marched up the steps, along the top of the lawn, down to a bush, and killed the tiger. I was merely there to watch out for traffic; Jack had all this planned and carried it out with great intensity. Disclaimer: the swords are foam; Jack is really interested in animals; and he loves his dog Rosie. It's just a guy thing.

A guy thing - like a fascination with all things with wheels, especially big trucks and "bikies" - motorcycles. The trip to the store mentioned above netted Jack a new book about Tonka trucks - one that had a story and puzzles. He also spent a few minutes showing GrandBob how he could drive his John Deere tricycle all by himself. The last time I was there he wanted me to push him up and down the hill - now he's all Jack-powered.

These two activities - just part of a busy day - reminded me in some ways of times with my grandfather and also how my dad played with his grandchildren.

My paternal grandfather died before I was born; my maternal grandfather lived in Missouri, so I only saw him about once a year until I was in my late teens. Then he moved into the small apartment next to my house, where he lived for several years until he passed away. Anyway, a lot of my memories are of "Pappy" teaching me guy things: mostly fishing, a little hunting, playing cards. My dad had already done this (except the cards); it was Pappy's "job" since he had the time to expand on this "guy" knowledge.

My father was still working during my kids' early years. Even so, trips to Grandpa's house always included driving the mower; pumping gas at the gas station; feeding the birds; and reading books. Later when he retired and the kids were older those kinds of things continued.

So here I am in 2010, a GrandBob (twice) and it seems things are the same. The kids probably get more sugar, less sleep, and more attention than they should - but I don't remember it permanently damaging me or my kids, so who am I to break with tradition?

Some things do change though: today my 2 1/2 year-old grandson Skyped with his two week old cousin (well, pretty much Jack was doing the talking and watching; Lucy was sleeping most of the time). But he did get to see her and wish her a happy birthday (which is pretty astute for a 2 1/2 year-old, but hey, he's my grandson).

The point of all this long discourse: A lot has changed in the decades of grandparenting I've been a part of: first as a recipient, then as an observer, and now as a practitioner. But a lot remains the same:

Grandparents love their grandchildren, and through that love, cherish their children in a different way, as parents, and bearers of a legacy to a new generation.

It was a very fine day, indeed.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Removing the Stigma of the "V" Word

How many times have you gone somewhere, anywhere, and you go the the desk and there it is:

How does that make you feel?

Let's take another trip - to a hotel, or a restaurant, or to a friend's home. The odds are that you are welcomed as a guest.

How does that make you feel?

When it comes to ChurchWorld, more often than not we have visitors, not guests. It may be a little thing to you, just a word, but I think it's actually a powerful first impression that needs to change.

This week I have been on the grounds of over two dozen churches in a southern city, noted for its charm and hospitality. All different sizes, all different denominations (or none), all different socioeconomic backgrounds.

  • First impression: A little over half had special parking - for visitors.
  • Second impression: Only about a third had a designated place inside the building - for visitor information.
  • Third impression: Over 90% of the staff I talked with were happy to tell me about their process: for welcoming visitors.
Not so good, in my book.

Let's just make it official: as of today, the word "visitor" is officially banned from your church's vocabulary.

Guests come to your place, looking for a warm greeting, a smiling face, and an experience designed to make them feel like, well, guests. Nothing phony, manipulative, or in-your-face; just welcome them as guests with the most sincere, energizing, and loving experiences you can.

How about it? Is it a deal?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seth Godin on "Demonstrating Strength"

Once again, Seth Godin nails it.

In 54 words, Godin posts what some bloggers have been calling his "Sermon on the Mount." I already have a high opinion of him - I own almost all of his books; I read and refer his works to others all the time; and he was my favorite speaker at Catalyst 2008. (Really bummed that I can't be at Catalyst this year, but will be looking for his presentation online later this week).

He is simply one of the top 3 business world thinkers that have tremendous impact on ChurchWorld.

If you haven't already read it, go there now.

It's that important...and relevant to your organization.

And if it makes you feel better, substitute the word "world" for "market" in the last line.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Art of Visualization

Leonardo da Vinci was the greatest genius in history. In his life he was recognized as an artist, sculptor, musician, scientist, writer, architect, inventor, and military engineer. If you wanted to learn how to be a creative thinker, then studying the life of da Vinci would certainly be a great start.

If you begin to think like da Vinci, you would soon realize that the five senses - sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell - are the keys to opening the doors of experience and learning. Of these, he viewed sight as the most important.

Da Vinci was most dramatic in describing the power of vision:

He who loses his sight loses his view of the universe, and is like one interred alive who can still move about and breathe in his grave. Do you not see that the eye encompasses the beauty of the whole world: It is the master of astronomy, it assists and directs all the arts of man. It sends men forth to all the corners of the earth. It reigns over the various departments of mathematics, and all its sciences are the most infallible. It has measured the distance and size of the stars; has discovered the elements. It has created architecture and perspective, and the divine art of painting.

Visualization is a marvelous tool to sharpen all your senses, improve your memory, and prepare for accomplishing your goals in life. The ability to visualize a desired outcome is built into your brain, and your brain is designed to help you succeed in matching that picture with your performance.

Want to learn more about visualization, and even develop exercises that will improve your visualization skills? Check out "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci" by Michael J. Gelb. Drawing on da Vinci's notebooks, inventions, and legendary works of art, Gelb introduces Seven Da Vincian Principles - the essential elements of genius.

With da Vinci as your inspiration, you can learn the art of visualization and how it can help your problem solving and creative thinking.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Understanding the "Business" of Your Church

National Church Administration Day
October 21, 2010 9:30 a.m.—2:00 p.m.
Calvary Church
5801 Pineville-Matthews Rd, Charlotte, NC 28226

A Time of Learning, Lunch, and Fellowship

Risk Management: The Cost of Ministry
Risk Management is an ongoing journey and if neglected can be very
costly to a church regardless of its size. The moment we think that we
have everything under control is when we “trip and fall”. This study
will take you on a journey of inspection, assessment and determining
what you need to do to help your church eliminate costly mistakes.
Michael Aycock, CCA
Operations Director
Myers Park Presbyterian

The Hospitality Factor: Preparing for
Turn the Ordinary into Extraordinary! You don’t stand in line at
Starbucks just to buy a cup of coffee. You stop for the experience
surrounding the cup of coffee. Learn how the passion Starbucks has
can help you create an extraordinary experience to help connect
others to God.
Bob Adams
Certified Church Consultant
JH Batten, Inc.

Financial Management: Reducing Your
Risk and Protecting Your Assets
A popular insurance slogan says, “It only takes 15 minutes or more to
save 15%....”, applied to the world of church finances we could say it
only takes a few steps now to save a bunch of time, money, conflict
and embarrassment in the future. Let’s take a look at what we need
to do today to protect the “church wallet” tomorrow!
Terri Hood, CCA
Church Administrator
First Baptist Church-Rock Hill

Register Today
Name _________________________________________________________________
Organization ___________________________________________________________
Address _______________________________________________________________
E-mail ________________________________________________________________
Only $5 (includes conference and lunch)
Make checks payable to: NACBA Charlotte-Metro Chapter
Return to: Jennifer Childers First Presbyterian Church 1621 E. Garrison Blvd, Gastonia, NC 28054

Win a Kindle
and other fantastic door