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]

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