Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wednesday Night is Ladies Night

Dear Current Pastor,

Ever wonder if doing church in the way that you commonly know it is most effective? Do you ever sense that there might be a better way? Let me offer you some advice that won’t cost you a dime, and will save you the cost of a trip to the South Barrington Headquarters for the annual pep talk.

Implement a cover charge for your Sunday Services.

Think about it this way. Anything that is worth something has a cost associated with it. Gasoline isn’t free. Movies aren’t free. Tickets to concerts now can cost over a hundred dollars. Why should your Church As You Know It be any different?

Oh sure, you have the tithe, but you and I both know that only about 20 percent of your people foot the bill for the rest of the freeloaders. Have you made it too easy for folks to get in, get out and get on with their life? Would anything change if you had to give the usher five or ten bucks just to get in the door?

Yes, I’m serious.

Your church is a production just like any other business or entertainment endeavor. You are dispensing a product that costs you and your team time and money every week, yet you don’t expect every person to bear any cost whatsoever. This seems out of sorts with a basic principle of cost/benefit analysis. If your people are benefiting from your work, and they aren’t paying for it, who’s the smarter one of the two?

See, if you charge a cover, and your services are really that powerful and life changing, you’re going to get people to shell out the cover charge, no problem. People bitch about rising ticket prices at the theater, but they still go don’t they? Hollywood only needs to worry when people stop going to movies.

And the same for you. If you charge a cover at church, and no one wants to pay it, then Supply and Demand proves to be right once again. If there is no demand for what you supply, then maybe its time to take a closer look and ask why?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Churchicus Futurium

I was hanging out with the Terrestrial Transient a few days ago enjoying a Santa Fe 25th Anniversary Imperial Porter, and amid the conversation came a comment that resonated with me as to why I don’t like to speak in definitive statement regarding the Church of the Future.

“It seems like, when we rush to give something a name, it immediately becomes limited.”

“You just gave me my next blog thought” I replied.

I get asked regularly by people who read this blog about my definition of The Church of the Future, and I hesitate to give what they are looking for. Definitions are for experts and consultants. They help to sell books and seminars because they are easier to write down in a syllabus.

I prefer to define with stories.

After my Saturday night kitchen shift, I was unwinding at the bar and taking pleasure in the fading energy from a full night of service. A couple came in and saw someone they recognized. The initial squeal, followed by the hugs, led to a conversation I could not help but overhear.

It didn’t take long for me to catch the nature of what they were engaged. While I could not recreate it verbatim, the essence of what was said made me smile, as it affirmed my belief that the scattered seeds of The Church of the Future are germinating. Words like “our vision,” “create community,” and “what are we waiting for?” peppered their brief, lively discussion.

What I wanted to do, but my discretion prohibited, was to turn around and say a resounding, “Yes!” to these young future pastors, because most of us need little more than a simple “yes” to validate our idea and give us permission to take the first step. As it is, I fear the Church As We Know It will feel the need to identify it with a name, thereby limiting its potential in the process.

Current Pastor, if you see any of these seeds sprouting in your field, I would recommend you sit back and watch them grow before applying current methods of cultivation. Avoid the temptation to prematurely name, or cage the growing young organism. Let it be and watch for the fruit, for it is the fruit will determine what it is to be called.