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BEYOND RELEVANCE MUSINGS ON CHURCH, STRATEGY, AND CULTURE

BY RICHARD REISING

Follow Richard on Twitter
RT @DailyKeller: “It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you.” Tue Jun 16 03:14:27 +0000 2015
RT @DailyKeller: “Truth without love is harshness; it may be right but you ignore it because of it's bite. Truth and love together transfor… Thu Apr 09 13:12:00 +0000 2015
RT @DailyKeller: Love is never primarily defined in the Bible as a feeling. At its foundation love is at least a commitment and a promise. Fri Mar 27 19:12:01 +0000 2015
RT @CSLewisDaily: “#Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is modera… Tue Nov 11 03:47:45 +0000 2014
First 5k ever. First selfie without my daughter. :) #secondrunselfie http://t.co/TNe5SK6w9q Sat Nov 01 15:25:31 +0000 2014
RT @DailyKeller: “Anxiety is a daily statement to God saying, ‘I don’t think you have my best interest in mind’.” Thu Oct 09 14:01:58 +0000 2014
RT @timkellernyc: The heart of the gospel is the cross, and the cross is all about giving up power. Wed Sep 17 00:58:27 +0000 2014
RT @CSLewisDaily: "I don’t believe that good work is ever done in a hurry." ~ The C. S. Lewis Bible Sat Sep 13 12:57:25 +0000 2014
RT @mattedmundson: Our captivity to teach should never take precedent over our capacity to learn. #traidcraftAGM14 Sat Sep 13 12:57:04 +0000 2014
RT @DailyKeller: “You don't fall into love. You commit to it. Love is saying I will be there no matter what.” Sat Sep 13 12:56:38 +0000 2014
Very excited to be asked to speak this coming Wednesday on "Marketing God's Way" at Gateway Church http://t.co/PVKc31cGWB Sat Sep 13 12:55:03 +0000 2014
RT @CSLewisDaily: I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everyth… Fri Sep 12 00:41:41 +0000 2014
RT @DailyKeller: “If you don’t preach like there are lost people present, there won’t ever be any.” Mon Aug 18 05:06:29 +0000 2014
RT @timkellernyc: Jonah stands as a warning that human hearts never change quickly or easily even when someone is being mentored directly b… Sat Aug 16 02:19:46 +0000 2014
RT @DailyKeller: “Putting our faith in Christ is not about trying harder; it means transferring our trust away from ourselves and resting i… Sat Aug 16 02:17:19 +0000 2014
In life, there are people you can count on to DO THINGS & people you can count on to GET THINGS DONE—how exactly do you describe the rest? Thu Jul 03 03:07:02 +0000 2014
Excited to share some unique principles on Kingdom Influence next week. Visit if you can. Gateway Church: http://t.co/hlsoLtg05i Fri Mar 28 18:54:21 +0000 2014
Nov 26

A Thanksgiving Thought

Nov 26
Nov 26

At times it's easy for people to sound off about what they want to see changed in the church--and we need change, no doubt. But we would all be amiss if we didn't realize the debt of gratitude we owe to all church leaders--the success stories and the struggling.

For those of you who have abandoned a life of normalcy for the most illogical and potentially unrewarding lifestyle (from a purely human standpoint)... For those whose hearts beat against all human reason to serve an eternal calling to connect wayward hearts with a relentlessly merciful God... For those who are often-times expected to house all the answers in the world and deal with the weight of a church and the needs of everyone and still have a life... For those who answered a God-given call to serve the hearts of men...

We thank you.

And we thank God for you. And I personally dedicate my life to serving you.

On this Thanksgiving, I am more grateful than you know for my wonderful wife, the incredible team of talented people that I work with and the opportunity to serve church leaders. At the core of it all, I am thankful for the church leaders in my life that have helped mold and shape things in me that I did not always recognize at the time. I am grateful for you.

I want to encourage everyone to remember this Thanksgiving that (perfect or imperfect) those in ministry around you have all answered a call and dedicated their lives to serving others for Christ. In our humanity, we often forget the divine call that unites us. What an honor we have been given to serve side by side in the kingdom--and what a debt of gratitude we owe to all who join the fight.

May the Lord bless you this Thanksgiving!

0 comments

Nov 24

The Video: The Culture Crime

Nov 24
Nov 24

In the video, there were a few points made about culture. Not just the style of things, which I look forward to writing on soon, but the often unidentified aspects of culture that are less obvious—the way greeters greet, the way ministers minister, the way ushers "ush", and the way church-goers go—all of it is a reflection of a church's culture. Some churches have a very outgoing culture—others seem to be in a completely different world of their own.

I’m not just talking about our need to train greeters on how to greet as much as I’m suggesting that there is a way of "being" that each individual church has created—whether it’s realized or not. That culture can be completely magnetic to outsiders, or completely repellant. The irony is, whether good or bad, it’s usually consistent throughout—or at least is consistently inconsistent. Many times, when you see a greeter fail on his/her job, it has more to do with church culture than it does poor training.

For some of the church leaders out there, I’m about to paint a picture about a proactive culture that you might deem farfetched, but here goes...

Imagine being ahead of the game. Your volunteer team is trained and comes ready. The sermon and music was nailed long before Sunday. In addition, as a leader, you are thinking and praying for souls. You are thinking about people and how you‘re going to connect with them at every spiritual level [see my posts on the stadium]. You’re thinking about visitors—how you want to see them come to Christ. When you arrive before service, your pre-game routine is simply to pat the team members on the back and remind them of what the trophy looks like—touched lives. You encourage your team that people today will be coming and need to see their smiles as God prepares their hearts. You are thinking more about hitting home runs [see the stadium] and not so much about the details. As a result, you’ve spent what time you do have with your support team—encouraging them with enthusiasm. You are outward focused. You put your teammates at ease by allowing them to focus on their task—reminding them of the end result.

This culture is a proactive one. It’s proactively outward focused. It’s ahead of the game and it’s driven by a clear purpose. It exists consistently in about 5% of churches. The other 95% of churches are reactionary: struggling with the lack of resources, the missing team members, and the last-minute changes. In the reactionary world, it’s very unlikely that every one is thinking outside themselves and about others—specifically visitors. No church will ever be proactive all the time. Some weeks, things will happen and the reactive impulses will reign. But, the end result of weeks and weeks of reactivity is that after a while, we stop forgetting about the outside world all together. After a while, we are no longer building our efforts around the visitor experience and we lose the correlation between our actions and growth. If we go too far, we can even create a counter-culture, so fixated on ourselves that we've lost track of what non-"regulars" are going through or needing.

The culture crime of this video is not just the missed greeter opportunity—it’s the disconnection that kept every other "regular attendee" and worker in the video from thinking first and foremost of others—remembering the inside jokes and the punch lines, but forgetting the true treasure in their midst. Just this past week I experienced a rapidly growing church that was so outward focused, it was palpable. Every volunteer was attentive to me as a guest, and was adding to the experience of the well-executed service. I was amazed. I then felt the same attention given by those I sat next to. It was a pro-active culture—one where they were thinking about me long before I arrived. What "secret sauce" did this mystery church have? It wasn't their brochures. It was their culture. It starts today in your church. Go build it.

© Richard L. Reising

4 comments

Nov 20

The Video: Reserved for Barista

Nov 20
Nov 20

I love signage. Signage means so much. When you have a birthday and your family hangs a sign they made up over the door—when the military returns home from war and they are met with poster-board signs of affection—every time you see it, signage conveys value. It says "you are important, and we thought of you in advance."

In our video there were two signage statements we were making—one blatant and another hidden. The "RESERVED FOR..." parking signs did the job that signs do: they expressed value. They said, "These people are important to us." In our video, the visitors were not valued, just the ones who ran the show: the barista, the manager and the manager's wife. Without realizing they were doing it, they were saying with signage that, "These are the preeminent people. This is who we value as an organization."

The hidden statement is that there were no signs for visitors whatsoever. Not parking signs, not welcome signs, not even signs telling them where to enter. In our original cut, we had the couple ask, "Where do we go in?" They were confused about where to enter and ended up just walking where the crowd was headed. Lack of signage simply told them they weren't important. Lack of signage in a church leaves the indefinable impression to a visitor that, "this church was not made for you. It was made for people who already know their way around."

Now, I understand that pastor might need a parking sign in order to make sure the service goes off without a hitch. I might suggest that it is near the back entrance, if possible. In our video, it was the only signage visible—saying that the barista (minister) was much more important than the visitor.

When we think about how valued we want the visitor to feel, we would all say it should be very high. The way you show that, is in the signage leading up to your entry, and then following that throughout your building. Notice at the end of the video, the wife says, "I couldn’t find the restroom anywhere?" Signage leads the way. Your Info Center does not resolve the timid visitor's need to know something we should have already told them.

Hey, I'm not the only one pounding the table about signage. How bout this guy... “Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.” Habakkuk 2:2 (Amplified)

Signage is a statement of value. Are your values consistent with your signage?

For more insight into signage, I wrote a few articles earlier this year about it in Church Executive and Religious Product News.

Stay tuned for more on the video...

© Richard L. Reising

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