“What you really need to do is put on your glasses.” Huh?
I was talking with dear friend about a situation I was going through at the time that was just an epic case of misunderstanding and miscommunication. It was not good. His advice to me? “Put on your glasses.”
What my friend meant was that I needed to look at things through the lens of the other person. I needed to figure out how they saw the scenario. When I stopped and did so, and I really got honest, everything I couldn’t understand previously, I understood.
This practice is helpful in situations other than just misunderstanding. Let’s take a minute and try it.
Suppose you are a first time guest to your church. (We have the privilege of being guests in lots of churches.) You have never been there; you may have never even heard of the place before. Walk through the front door. Do you know where to go? Are there signs? a greeter? Walk into the sanctuary. Does anyone talk to you? Pretend you don’t know that money is tight, you don’t know about the perpetual issue with the leaking AC system, and you don’t know the backstory about the bad auditorium lighting. As a first time visitor, what would you think?
While we have our first time visitor “glasses” on, let back up a step even further… before the visitor even walks through the door of the church.
How did they find the church? If they’re in the top 80% of first-time church visitors, they’ve seen your website. What impression does your online presence leave them with? Let’s say they wanted to hear a sermon of the pastor preaching; can it easily be downloaded or streamed? Do you have a welcome video so people can experience your church’s flavor?
While we are on the information superhighway, let’s jump in the social media lane and drive by Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and the like. Would your visitor find you there? What pictures and comments are being posted? I was once at a church where a lady had accidentally posted some scathing remarks she had meant for another person, but when it showed up on the church’s social media page it looked as if she was talking about the church! Or maybe they would find an announcement like this: “Our dear sister Margaret Smith is in the hospital. Cards and flowers may be sent to her home at 1145 South Beach Avenue, Alpine, IL 61043.” Or “Girls lock-in at the church tonight. NO ADULTS—just girls.” While the intentions may have been good, announcements such as these could easily be exploited by some not so nice types.
Still have your glasses on? Let’s walk by the mix position. Is the area clean? Is it five minutes before the service and everything is in absolute chaos while one guy runs all over trying to get setup? Are wires and cables oozing out everywhere?
Keep your glasses on and take a seat. (Have you as a tech ever listened to your system from the pews?) What’s it sound like? Is it too loud, not loud enough? Are there occasional distracting buzzes, hums, or rings? What does the auditorium lighting and projection look like? Is the picture blurry with wrong or misspelled words on the screen?
Before you take off your glasses, ask yourself, “If people who had never met me talked with me, if folks had no idea who I was and saw me serving in the church as I do every Sunday, what would they think?
Obviously you want to get totally honest with yourself as you answer these questions. Then, ask yourself one more question: What opinion does this ministry give of Christ? Although we definitely want people to have a good impression of our ministry, ultimately we want them to have the right opinion of Christ.
I’m not saying this exercise is easy or fun, and it definitely isn’t pleasant. But with the data you’ve gathered while having on your glasses, you can now begin the process of making things right, and implementing change for the good of the gospel.
But how do you make those changes?
The first thing is to get the church leadership together and make them aware of these problems. Help them see what you have seen. Then work with them to prioritize the fixes that need to be implemented. Create a timeline to get them fixed.
it is vitally important that we take the time to look at things in our ministries through the eyes of others and see what they see. Maybe even ask people in the pews what they think. We want to avoid anything that does not give the right opinion of the Lord.