March 2012

West Club Campus Pastor Brad O’Brien tipped me off to this post by Phil Cooke. One quote worth mentioning…

…your customers, media audience, or donors don’t care about your policy about anything. Policies are to help you do your job – they don’t help the customer. Only in extreme cases should you use a policy as a back stop when a situation with a customer or client gets out of control.

But remember – customers don’t care. Your “policy” about something is YOUR problem, not theirs.

On our First Impressions teams, we have a ton of policies. First Time Guests have reserved parking. We seat people from the front to the back so that latecomers aren’t left looking for seats on the front row. The auditorium doors don’t open until fifteen minutes before the service so we can get it cleaned and prepped. We never let guests get wet and we never feed ’em after midnight.

(Oops, that’s a policy for another team.)

We don’t make a big deal out of our policies externally. Unlike the story in the post cited above, we don’t trumpet policies needlessly. They’re there for us so that we’ll make sure we’re serving guests well. But that’s the point…they’re for us to follow, but they benefit the guest. That means that if a policy gets in the way of a person, we set the policy aside whenever possible.

Sometimes it’s possible, but not reasonable. For example, if someone is attending the Summit for the 49th time but still wants First Time Guest parking, well then, that requires a kind, grace-filled conversation. (“Jesus loves you, but if you park here again we’re going to let the air out of your tires.”) No, we don’t let folks run rough-shod over the policies. They’re policies for a reason.

But policies won’t – they can’t – get in the way of people. A policy is supposed to contribute to the experience, not detract from it. If a policy is running the risk of doing that, we reevaluate, adjust, and possibly get rid of it altogether.

What are some policies you’ve seen – in this church or another – that make no sense? Comment below.


I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are thinking, “Hey Franks, not only do you veg out on Fridays and toss up some old piece of garbage that’s even less creative than your new pieces of garbage, but you’re intentionally making us click on the link to go back to the original post just so it’s extra work on us!”

And you’re right.

Today it’s my pleasure to bless your Friday with this little gem of a video that my family tipped me off to over Christmas. God bless Bill Cosby. He’s the greatest comedian that America has ever known.


No. He’s only funny in China.

Read the entire post (and see the video) by going through the painstaking process of clicking here.

FAA Says It Will Finally Consider Updating List of Approved Electronics. Whew. For too long I was afraid my game of Angry Birds would bring down the jet.

The rules apparently require that every version of the device be tested in an empty flight on every plane in the airline’s fleet. So, every possibly iPod would need to fly alone on every possible airplane just to see if iPods could be allowed. For airlines, who are strangers to customer comfort, such efforts are just not worthwhile. [read more]

Student Says ‘Thank You’ with ‘Cyborg Unicorn’I like this kid. Maybe I should hire him to write blog posts.

…you’re more awesome than a monkey wearing a tuxedo made out bacon riding a cyborg unicorn with a lightsaber for the horn on the tip of a space shuttle closing in on Mars while ingulfed in flames… [read more]

South London’s Burger at Blacks Offers ‘Beast’ of a Burger: 18,000 CaloriesThis article would be so much cooler if I understood the metric system.

A South London bar came up with a heart attack waiting to happen (on a plate). It’s nicknamed The Beast, and the name suits its owner. The succulent hamburger comes in its own specially baked 30-centimeter diameter bun and contains 3.15 kilograms of beef. [read more]

Merriem's last photo with her Grandmother, Christmas 2011.

Yesterday we buried Merriem’s last living grandparent. Grandmother Murphy was a true southern matriarch. Poised, polished, and prepared for every scenario, even making sure that each detail of her funeral was covered. It has been a bittersweet few days of memories, tears, and final goodbyes.

It’s also been a few days of once again comparing funeral traditions. You see, Merriem and I grew up in small southern towns just thirty minutes apart. Me in southern middle Tennessee, she in north central Alabama. Thirty minutes separated, but worlds apart when it comes to how funerals are done.

I remember the very first funeral we attended as a couple, twenty-plus years ago. The dad of a friend had passed away, and Merriem came with me to the service at the funeral home and the graveside service. After the pastor’s final remarks, Merriem looked at me and whispered, “Are we going?” To which I replied, “Of course not. It’s not over.”

Because it wasn’t over. The graveyard tractor roared to life, pulling carts full of dirt, which was then dumped over the lowered casket while we watched.

Merriem was horrified. She’d never seen a John Deere participate in a funeral service before. I’d never seen it done any differently.

In Alabama, the family has the graveside service, then returns home while the casket is lowered and buried. The family returns later that evening to see the finished result.

See? Potato salad.

In Alabama, people bring food to the home of the deceased. Lots and lots and lots of food. People that you’ve never met before will show up with potato salad.

In Tennessee, it’s the same thing. Except instead of bringing food to someone’s house, food comes to the funeral home. There’s a back room where the family has a veritable buffet set up, because nothing says “I’m taking a break from processing my grief” like a bucket of cold chicken from KFC.

In Alabama, the emerging tradition is that visitation happens at the home of the deceased. You don’t show up at the funeral home until the day of the service, and then just a few hours before things get started. In Tennessee, visitation is as big of an event as the funeral. One night – sometimes two! – of greeting the family. And then there are chairs set up where you can greet, then sit, and then stare at the casket. I don’t know what we’re staring at. But that’s what we do. Funeral visitations are the place to see and be seen. It’s the depressing version of Wal Mart.

In Alabama, the family is sequestered in their own little sitting area during the service itself. In Tennessee, the family gets a reserved pew in the middle of the action.

Those are just a few of the differences Merriem and I have identified over the years. What about you? What are some of the funeral traditions unique to your hometown? Comment below.

A few years ago I attended a security seminar for churches. You know…how to take down a perpetrator when they try to take two crackers out of the Lord’s Supper tray. (My previous experience as an unarmed security guard in a polyester suit made me a natural fit for the training.)

One of the things we covered was the “Don’t Look Right” principle. The security authority guy said that when something doesn’t look right in your weekend worship experience, you’ll know it. Call it a hunch, call it a sixth sense, call it just being really in tune with your environment…you’ll know it.

It’s the same way secret service agents are trained to spot counterfeit bills by spending so much time running through the real deal. After years of handling authentic money, they can catch a fake twenty from 100 yards away.

And it should be the same way in our guest service experience. Your leaders should know what supplies are out of place, what people are out of place, and what systems are out of place at a glance.

We usually do that as part of a quick walk through before the services begin. A quick checklist – be it physical or mental – will do wonders to keep the DNA of your guest service experience intact.

And part of that comes by actually having a system. If you’re reinventing the way you do ministry on a weekly basis, there’s no way you can develop a standard from which you can determine what “don’t look right.”

So what is it that don’t look right on your weekend?

Every Friday, we dig into the Connective Tissue archives to see what old dust-encrusted goodies we can pull out. Here’s today’s offering:

…here’s what I loved about their wedding vows: Nathan & Cheryl wrote their own, and at the end, each of them said, “No matter what, I’m all in.”

That’ll preach.

I’ve counseled with far too many couples who aren’t all in.  She wants to remake man in her image, and is committed to nagging until she gets her way.  He wants to hang out with the boys and pretend he’s still single.

Read the entire, original post here.

It’s day four of your work week, and your three-a-day is here with not-so-helpful links to get you through. Here’s what I’ve been reading (and enjoying) this week…

Sleep Or Die. Nothing like starting your day off by reading about your demise through sleepy eyes. Be encouraged!

Getting five hours or less of sleep per night puts you at 2.5x higher risk for diabetes, 45% higher risk of heart attack, and 12% higher risk of death. [read more]

Engaging with Criticism
. Another winner by Seth Godin (what isn’t?). How does this affect your guest services teams at your church?

Sometimes a customer has a one-off problem, a situation that is unique and a concern that has to be extinguished on the spot. More often, though, that feedback you’re getting represents the way a hundred or a thousand other customers are  also judging you. [read more]

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time
. (I read this while making coffee, filing my taxes, and training for the Alaskan Iditarod.)

The biggest cost…is to your productivity. In part, that’s a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you’re partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it’s because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you’re increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent. [read more]

A couple of weeks ago we gathered with our small group, as we do every Sunday. We ate a little barbecue and played a little Taboo and spent a little time in prayer for one another, and somewhere through the course of the evening it hit me:

We’re knit together.

I know small groups sometimes get a bad rap*: strange people! Boring discussions! I just sat in cat pee! And yes, there are groups that perhaps deserve that reputation. And yes, there are strange people in my small group (I refer to myself as Exhibit A).

But I love my group. I love it not just for the spiritual growth that happens each week from 5:30 to 7:30. I love it because we’re family.

Our group is incredibly diverse. We have a girl who was born in India, a guy born in Nigeria, a lady born in the Philippines. We have grandparents, an engaged couple, and single people. We have attorneys and hourly wage earners. We have couples with no kids and couples with four kids.

And yet we’re family.

Merriem and I don’t have biological family close by. Both of our families are 600 miles away. But our small group family? They’re ours. We play together. Pray together. Go out to eat together. Celebrate birthdays together.

We do life together.

I say this all the time in Starting Point: if you have no intention of joining a small group, you need to run, not walk, to a much much smaller church. It will only be a matter of time before you feel lost, marginalized, forgotten, uncared for. You simply can’t do community in a crowd. Come out of the crowd and find your family.

Wanna know more? If you attend the Summit, check out the small groups kiosk at your campus this weekend!



*More importantly, is it “rap” or “rep”? “Rep” should be short for “reputation,” right? But “rap” sounds so much more accurate.

Recently I was hanging out in my Starbucks annex office with my friend Ben Salmon. I enjoy hanging out with Ben, even though he has an annoying habit of wanting to sit on a cedar plank.

(pause whilst I wait on the pun to sink in)

Somewhere around the last quadrant of the conversation, I saw a sight so hideous, so disgusting, so onerous that I could not look away. It was like my own personal train wreck inside a coffee shop. Ben was mid-sentence of what was (I’m sure) some fascinating customer service story when I saw a little boy pick up one of the green “splash sticks.” While his mom was busy ordering a Frapposoylattachino, he was innocently picking up the stick…then tapping the stick…then twirling the stick…then putting the stick in his ear…then putting the stick back in the communal stick cup.

Yes. You read that right. I will never forget that sight, and now you can’t either. The kid. Put the stick. In his EAR. And spun it around. And then it went back in the cup. The common cup. The common cup that others will pick a stick from.

And then die a slow painful death as the result of a communicable little boy earwax disease.

Here’s the thing: I saw that. And now I can’t unsee it. From this point forward, every time I go to grab a splash stick, I’m going to catch myself, then ask my barista to go in the back storage area, open a fresh case, peel back the cellophane seal while wearing latex gloves, and hand me my splash stick using tweezers that have been sterilized in alcohol and high heat.

Every weekend, you have the potential to allow guests to see something they can’t unsee. A heated interaction between volunteers. A parking team guy throwing his hands up in disgust when they didn’t see which way he was pointing. A dirty bathroom. A broken system.

As Mark Waltz and your mama say, first impressions really do matter. Yes, we can eventually overcome a bad one, but people will rarely forget their first exposure to you. Just like seeing a little boy with a splash stick in his ear, there are some things we’ll just never forget.

What are some “splash stick” stories you’ve seen at churches you’ve visited? At the Summit Church? Comment below.

I discovered something recently that may mark the end of singles ministry at the Summit Church.

Now, we don’t have an official singles ministry, per se. We do have singles. And we do have ministry. That nomenclature is similar to my 16 year old son’s friend, who yes, is a girl, and yes, is a friend. But she’s a “special friend.”

So I don’t want to be too crass in saying that we’re ending a ministry that we don’t officially have. Because you get in trouble saying stuff like that, even if you regularly write a blog that always keeps it’s proverbial tongue planted firmly in cheek. Like the time I introduced our Baptism Xpress initiative and got raked over the coals with angry emails and possibly a death threat. (Not really. See? Tongue in cheek, exhibit A.)

But I digress. I discovered a new feature on our database recently that could mean that there are now no excuses not to be hitched around this place. I was shocked, quite frankly, at how easy it is. You pull up someone’s profile, and *BOOM* you get to select the following option:

Revolutionary, ain’t it?

But please, no clicking on my profile. I’m happy with my current family.

(If you’d like to read a legit post about the problems with traditional singles ministry, check out this one by my friend Spence Shelton. And if you want more info about an honest-to-goodness, gospel-fueled singles gathering here, you can find it on Facebook.)

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