Yesterday at our City Pres Leadership Team Meeting, my friend Peter Winemiller discussed his vision for the Oklahoma City Thunder and how that might relate to our church. His goal is that the Thunder would be the most fan-centric team in professional sports.
Think about that. It’s quite a dream. I’d think his goal would to be – at first and most basic – not get fired today and then move up from there to making money for the team, or having a positive retention rate. Pete’s not involved in winning or losing games, he can’t control how Kevin Durant or the team does. He leads the over 600 people who work for 15 companies to pull off an NBA basketball game over and over for the 20,000 guests who come for the night. He wants every fan that walks in to have a great experience – and if they don’t, he’d like to fix that if he can. He empowers those 600 people to fix it. They’re leaders because they’re problem solvers.
I think we can learn from this model as a church. Like NBA teams, churches can think they deserve better. NBA teams deserve fans in their city. They get huffy if people don’t attend. Just like churches. Why aren’t visitors coming? Churches think they deserve visitors to return. They never deserve criticism. It’s always someone else’s fault as to why a person had a bad experience. Time isn’t devoted to making things better for a visitor, or someone who might consider staying and becoming a member someday. Even having the attitude to think about or discuss this is suspicious. We might be selling out or becoming seeker sensitive.
I once went to a church plant overseas that no one went to. I had a really hard time liking this worship service, and asked the pastor why he thought no one was coming. He had a million reason, none of them connected to his church or himself. I’m sure some of them were true. I couldn’t help it. I asked, “But what if people don’t like it because… well… it’s just not very good?”
It’s not overseas, but 85% of people in Oklahoma City don’t go to church. I’m sure it’s for a host of reasons, and some of them are unfixable by churches themselves. But some of it is because, well, churches aren’t always very good.
I think we should care about what people think when they come and visit. We don’t have to fix everything all the time. Pete’s suggestion is to pick one thing to do 1% better – over time those things will accumulate. I’d like to make huge advancements in our parking location finders, in our visitor packets, in our communications and greeting. We’ll get there. We may not be able to eliminate every typo, but we should be trying, ruthlessly trying. Thanks Pete. Go Thunder. Go City Pres. May the Lord be glorified in your church – not our glory but yours.