Churches seem to live in the culture of “yes”:

  • “Yes, we’ll start that program.”
  • “Yes, we’ll turn the music down.”
  • “Yes, we’ll offer both a traditional service and a contemporary service and a service for left handed hazel eyed Republicans who have vertigo.”

Let me be clear: I believe in yes. I’m a people pleaser by nature (translated: fear of man), so I like trying to give people what they want.

But what happens when what the greater good wants is directly opposite of what someone else wants?

I think there’s two keys to handling a “no” when you’d rather give a “yes”:

  1. acknowledge the letdown and
  2. keep it fun

I saw this handled in a great way on a recent flight. This particular flight attendant had served her share of pretzels, if you get my drift. This lady looked like she had at least a 30 year track record with this airline, so I’m sure she’s heard it all, seen it all, and put up with it all. But as I observed her throughout the flight, I realized that she’d mastered the delightful skill of keeping it fun when she has to say “no.”

For the lady in front of me who insisted on going to the restroom while the seat belt sign was still on: “Ma’am, I can’t tell you that you can get up. If you get up and then you fall, the airline is liable. So you can’t get up. But I’m about to walk to the front of the plane, and I don’t necessarily know if you obey me or not.”

For the people on the flight that were complaining about the temperature: “Ladies and gentlemen, there are two settings on this plane: too hot and too cold. Some of you have been enjoying the too hot. Now I’m pushing a button that allows us to experience too cold.”

At our church, we have to keep it fun when it comes to crowds. We’re constantly asking people to switch service times, switch venues, or switch campuses. We acknowledge that it’s a sacrifice, but we also pepper those “asks” with humor: funny videos, funny announcements, even funny bait and switch techniques.

If you can make people laugh, the “no” is more palatable. If you acknowledge people’s frustrations, you soften the blow of a potentially negative experience.

So how do you deal with people who can’t get what they want? Comment below.

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