July 15, 2014
The blog is temporarily down for a little upgrade. We’ll be back soon and very soon with a new and improved look.
Meanwhile, I’d like us all to meditate on this picture of the man who saved the world again. You’re welcome, ‘Merica.
July 11, 2014
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My kids’ school system could take a lesson in getting to the point. On snow days or snow-delayed days, we receive an automated 5 AM phone call to let us know the status closings or delays. This is an almost word for word recap of what they say:
Hello, this is [guy's name], superintendent of the [I'm not telling you which school my kid goes to, stalker] County School System, calling to update you on the status of school closings for [today's date].
Road conditions in the county have deteriorated overnight because of the winter precipitation that began last evening. We have had crews out since 4:00 this morning, surveying road conditions to see if they are safe enough for buses and our teenage student drivers.
Because safety is of the utmost priority, we want to make sure that we take utmost precautions when making a decision on closings or delays. Although most of the primary roads have been cleared, some outlying areas might still have slick road surfaces, especially because temperatures are hovering around freezing, the barometric pressure is 29 and falling, and my artificial hip is flaring up again…
July 10, 2014
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In other news, my WordPress dashboard tells me this is the 100th Thursday Three For All. That calls for a celebration. Or a realization that I’m really, really lazy and just like to curate other people’s stuff.
(Let’s go with the first option. It sounds better.)
How much do you trust your people to do the right thing?
Consider giving every person on your team a budget—$1000 a year? $200 an incident? and challenging them to spend the money to make things right, to create efficiency, to delight.
Inside President Obama’s Secret Schedule. (via @OKnox) Whatever your political bent, try to set it aside for this article. It’s a fascinating look at the art and science of handling one of the biggest jobs on the planet.
In classic Washington fashion, there are also presidential meetings called “drop-bys” that sound casual but are actually meticulously planned. Sometimes a meeting gets that label to dampen expectations that the president will stick around for a long time. Other times, there are questions of protocol — for example, it’s appropriate for the national security adviser to schedule a meeting with a given ambassador or international figure who might not rate a formal sit-down with the president. Then the president just “drops by.”
Astonishingly detailed 19th century sand art jars. (via @LaughingSquid) What did you expect? They didn’t have Twitter to keep ‘em busy.
July 9, 2014
A few weeks ago, an alert reader alerted me to the fact that they’d never seen a post of this kind on the blog. Sadly, I was not alert enough to jot down the alert reader’s name, and even several
seconds minutes worth of inbox searching failed to produce any identifying info so I could give ‘em credit.
So alert reader: I apologize.
But the question remains, how do you spot a first time guest? How do you distinguish a seasoned member of your church from one who’s walking in the door for the very first time? Ideally, you’ll simply follow your procedure: have a process that you can use as a tool to identify and greet guests as they arrive.
But what if there’s no process? Or what if there is a process, but your guest missed the signage or the instructions or just wanted to fly under the radar? Here are six things that might help (and yes, these are likely cobbled together from the thoughts of Mark Waltz, Nelson Searcy, and others. This same non-alert person also failed to find specific references in their books).
- Heading towards the wrong door / parking spot / building. Seasoned people know the rules: where to park, where to walk, when to get there. If a guest looks lost (and if you have an observant outside team), you can help get them to their destination.
- Slowing down as they approach. Seasoned folks confidently maneuver your sidewalks and front doors; guests do not. If they’re slowing their pace, chances are they’re new.
- Looking around / looking up. A first timer will try to take it all in. They’re looking for visual cues: signs, banners, and overheads that let them know they’re in the right spot.
- Over- or under-dressed. If you’re a casual crowd and a guy shows up in a three piece, he could be a fancy hipster. Or he could be dressing for what he thinks your church expects.
- Really late or really early. Let’s err on the “really early” side. Your regulars are probably the ones showing up for an 11:20 service that you don’t have.
- Texting. A lot. Sure, this could be the sign of any 12-59 year old in your church. But it could also be the sign of a first time guest who is trying to find the friend they’re meeting there. True story: I once approached a lady who had been texting for 10-15 minutes as she stood in the lobby. She said she was trying to find a friend of a friend who’d invited her. The good news: that friend went to the Summit. The bad news: she was at the wrong campus. My wife invited her to sit with our family and the experience was (partially) saved.
There’s gotta be a #7. What would you add? Comment below.
July 8, 2014
Let’s start by getting one thing straight: the above photo is a piece o’ stock photography I ripped off of the interweb. Anyone in their right mind knows that the first step in drinking a cup of Starbucks is to line it up: the mermaid on the cup sleeve goes over the mermaid on the cup, and the hole in the lid is centered right above the “b” in Starbucks.
Whew. OCD Danny feels better now.
I’m somewhat of a Starbucks fan. I drop by 1-2 times per week, and most of the time my order is of the hot variety. I need the aforementioned cup, sleeve, and lid to keep the sloshes at bay and make sure my coffee stays either in my cup or in my mouth.
And Starbucks is no slouch on their packaging materials. They provide all of the above in copious quantities, including the nifty little “splash stick” in case you’re taking a coffee to a friend or want to keep your order hotter longer.
The only problem is, roughly one out of every four Starbucks lids fails me. There I am, taking a swig of my grande blonde roast, one Splenda and a dash of cream, when a tiny rivulet of coffee escapes from underneath the plastic dome and dribbles down the side of the cup, or worse…on my shirt or pants. It’s not that I missed my mouth (fat chance of that); it’s not that I didn’t properly attach the lid. It’s that the lid and cup don’t quite match up in the “hermetically sealed” arena.
I have no doubt that Starbucks is a quality company (nearly $15 billion in net revenues last year). I have no doubt they put out quality products and provide a quality experience. But I fail to recognize any of that when I’m forced to wear the remnants of my blonde roast on my shirt for a 9 AM meeting. At that moment, I don’t want to drink a beverage from a billion dollar company; I just want a lid that works.
What’s the “leaky lid” in your ministry? Sure, you can put a sizable chunk of your budget into crafting a quality experience. You can hire the most talented leaders and recruit the most gifted volunteers. You can shuck and jive with the best of them when it comes to playing the numbers game. But one wayward drip can lessen the impact:
- Maybe it’s a reputation for not returning emails.
- Perhaps it’s a volunteer who’s a little on the brash side.
- It could be a facility that’s in poor condition or a strategy that’s outdated or a system that’s broken.
Whatever your leaky lid, that tends to be the things people focus on, whether you want them to or not. How can you plug a leak today?
Special thanks to Jason Gaston for the post idea.
July 1, 2014
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I’m currently kicking around Southeast Asia, spending some time with two of our teams who are engaging with locals. If you missed yesterday’s post you can catch up here.
Watch your language.
Our mamas teach us that foundational principle from the time we learn to speak: don’t talk back. Don’t use potty language. If you can’t say something nice…
I learned the cultural equivalent of this on Sunday, when I spoke at a local fellowship. I’ve learned the hard way that you don’t write a fresh message for a cross cultural context, so I pulled up what I thought would be an oldie but a goodie and started modifying.
I trimmed. And cut. And hacked and chopped and minced. I cut out every American inside joke and cultural reference I found and wished multiple times that I had a Southeast Asian joke book (1,001 Funnies to Laugh Your Way Through A Language Barrier). But in the end – even after cutting more stuff five minutes before I walked to the front – I learned a valuable lesson:
Familiar to the speaker doesn’t translate to understandable for the hearer.
You see this every weekend in your context: congregational inside jokes, ministry-specific names, obscure theological terms, and an assumption of biblical understanding that’s just not there.
So trim. Cut. Hack, chop, and mince. Do whatever it takes to make the message understandable. Because if they don’t understand it, it’s going to be hard to build on it.