Monday, January 28, 2008

A Starbucks Church without the Coffee

My friends know that I like a good book and one of the titles I received from a good friend at Christmas was The Starbucks Experience. I know...Christmas was a while ago but I received about five books at Christmas and I think I'm doing pretty well so far.

In my quick read through this "your-business-can-be-a-success" book, I saw a lot of the same principles of some other business books that I enjoyed including Purple Cow, which was a book by Seth Godwin on making your business stand-out by being remarkable.

As I read the book, it occurred to me that many of these five principles in the Starbucks Experience were applicable to any organization including the local church. The one thing I can say about these principles at the beginning is that they aren't necessarily designed to make your organizations the largest, but simply truly remarkable.

While the book wasn't about growth, but about being remarkable, remember that remarkable organizations, including churches, grow. Remarkable organizations grow because of two main reasons. The first is that as people discover them, they not only become great fans and loyal supporters but they also tell their family, friends and neighbors about their remarkable find. In a business, this is called "goodwill" and in a church it's known as just being healthy.

The other reasons these remarkable organizations grow is because their customers, clients, members and visitors find more reasons to come back and come back often. People that discover Starbucks often find themselves stopping by daily for a Venti Vanilla Bean Frappuccino or an occasional Grande Toffee Nut Latte. Churches that are remarkable find that they are not just frequented on Sundays. Families find these remarkable churches to be great places to gather during the week. Singles and married couple find opportunities to gather as well as volunteer. Wednesday night is no longer just for the boys and girls club but a family event. Sunday school ranks swell as people weekly learn Biblical principles about life and devotion to God.

By the way, the principles contained in the book by author Joseph Michelli are really not all that remarkable in themselves. They are however, remarkably relevant. Taking some liberty, here is a list of the principles with my church application notes following:

  1. Make it your own: make all people in the church feel a true sense of belonging and believe that they have a purpose in the kingdom.

  2. Everything matters: What is preached is the entire council of God, not just the fun stuff. Husbands, wives children and singles, holiness, spiritual growth and reaching out to the widows and orphans are all important.

  3. Surprise and delight: Surprise church visitors with authentic hospitality. Reach out to those that are suffering. Pray for the sick and financially assist and counsel those not only in the church but in the community as well.

  4. Embrace resistance: Jesus said that a servant isn't greater than his master. "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you: (John 15:20) A church that faces no persecution is likely to not be preaching the gospel. Embrace it in love.

  5. Leave your mark: True stewardship is all about serving God with integrity, storing up for yourselves true treasures in heaven. Christian funerals are celebrations of a servant who has truly left their mark.

In case you didn't catch my theme, this is all about churches being remarkable. Being remarkable can be defined as "Worthy of notice" and "noticed as being unusual or extraordinary". It doesn't necessarily mean serving Starbucks coffee in the lobby.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Three "P's"

Recently I was in Oklahoma City and met Carla Hinton who is the staff religion editor for The Oklahoman. Carla Hinton and I spent a good hour talking (of which about nine minutes is captured on the video magazine below) about the importance of fiscal accountability among faith-based organizations and she gave me the opportunity to talk a little about the 3-P's.

I've been an guest lecturer, adjunct professor and part-time educator for a number of years, and somewhere along the way I started talking about how an organizational policies, practices and procedures are related.



The three "P's" that I talked about with Carla on the above video magazine that they produced are these same "Policies, Practices and Procedures". They are important for two important reasons.

The first reason is that well run organizations can be defined in a number of different ways including profits, revenue, satisfaction measurements, etc. One way is by saying that their polices, practices and procedures are fully aligned. It's easy for an organization or the board to create a policy. It's relatively simple as well to create a procedure, but for the policies and procedures to be fully aligned with daily practices is accomplished only with some measure of management skill, employee and board training and organizational tenacity.

Reason number two is that as organizations grow, it's important that the policies, practices and procedures are at a level that is commensurate with the size of the organization. This means that these three-P's need to grow and become more sophisticated and professional as the organization grows in size.

In particular, some human resource policies need to be developed once an organization starts having a number of full time employees. These employees need direction and oversight as well as employee benefits and the three-P's help keep them productive and motivated. Just as important, internal controls including the need for an external financial audit become more important as the organization grows. The policies, practices and procedures of an organization need to embrace the best practices of other large businesses as these organizations grow.

Fortunately some of the best run organizations (both for-profit and not-for profit) have been more than willing to share their best practices and with a simple Google search, newer and growing organizations can embrace these best practices. In a pinch, nonprofit organizations can always come to our website at http://www.ecfa.org/ and feast on any one of over 700 articles and best practices.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008

Happy New Year!

Perhaps like many of you, I'm a fan of New Years' resolutions. Whether we keep them I guess is a matter of personal resolve and discipline.

One of the things my wife and I enjoy doing at this time of the year is thinking back over the past year and seeing how God has uniquely blessed our life and marveling for just a moment at not only His provision, but His sovereignty.

God has always provided for us and we can look to some simple blessings like our home and our health as reminders of His faithfulness. I also see Him at work in my ministry and in my family... at work behind the scenes to advance our ministry and give us favor where it is needed.

Regarding the new resolutions, along with the normal "spend more time at the gym" and "lose weight this year" types of resolutions, I admire the more spiritual as well. It can be said that becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is both an instant occurrence as well as a life long happening. Paul encourages us to “be conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29). Even in this life, we “are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

That sounds like a pretty impressive resolution for each New Year don't you think? Like children that continue to grow, our Christian life should be measurably different and improving with each passing year. This is part of the maturation process and I'm happy to know that God isn't done with me yet.

While one of the first steps may be making that resolution to "become more like Christ", I believe one of the most important things I can do is to spend more time with Him. Time spent in daily prayer, Bible reading and just simple worship will do wonders in improving my spiritual maturity.

For those of you are are also "becoming more like Christ", enjoy the journey. I'll likely be seeing you along the way!

WHY A NON-DENOMINATIONAL EVANGELICAL CHURCH?

Our small Christian non-profit ministry recently requested and received approval from the IRS to be re-classified as a ‘church’.      ...