Yesterday's Mail Today
Are we missing a personal touch? Over the last few weeks I have been looking at different group email programs. They all strive to make email more personal. These services call themselves engaging, social and stylish. I remember a time when I would beg for an email to show up in my inbox; today I do everything I can to keep them out! Don't get me wrong, I love email. It is the most useful ways to communicate online but it is lacking one key thing: a personal touch. We do this in church: substitute personal things for efficient things. There is a lot of talk in ministry circles about customer service; asking the question how are we (church staff) serving our customers (church members)? I am not sure this is the right question to be asking. You also hear things like, the bigger we get the smaller we must become. This is the right idea but how do we pull it off? Any of us could create a laundry list of idioms that highlight our desire to make a personal connection with others, with our community. The problem is that each of us have a limited capacity for personal connections. It dosent scale. So we find ourselves in a place where we create systems of scale instead of personal connections. This is the best solution... or is it?
Can we create a relationship based systems that grow as the church grows? I am talking about being relational in the way we recruit volunteers, the way we receive an offering, or about the way we teach the Bible. Many people assume that going to a big church means that you give up a certain amount of personal connection. I have spoken with those who are drawn to this ambiguity and are content to lurk in the back row. I dont think this is necessarily true. We must create relationship based systems of doing church. This is how you build a culture: it starts from the bottom up.
Church culture that values individuals does not start with the church picnic. It starts with your mail. We need to reinvent yesterday's email mail today. People need to become excited to receive email from the church. (I am using mail as a metaphor for the many ways in which we interact with the church.) When you preach, send a post card or create a registration form you must ask yourself: does this sound conversational? Would I talk to my mother like this? Most of what we tell people on Sunday is not from the pulpit. It is from our lobby, our parking lot and the background we choose for our worship slides. This type of communication is contagious because it is honest. It will begin to saturate your congregation and they key to relational scalability will seed itself throughout the church: honesty. Can an honest sermon title help create an honest church?
Churches are getting bigger in North America and we run the risk of creating a gospel-machine that misses the mark of creating disciples. Is it a forgone conclusion that bigger churches will be less personal?