I live in a part of Maryland where most of the things around me are linked to the business world. The business world has its beneficial points like being on time, networking, attention to detail and service quality etc etc. There’s also that little number where the customer is always right.
Something I’ve noticed in the church amongst leaders and congregations is that we have taken on many of the practices of the business culture. One of them in particular I find really needs some boundaries.
Rate my Service. Customer satisfaction. How’s my driving? You know the terms, and you’ve participated in the forums and filled out the cards with the little circles and scales from 1-10. And I get it, the customer has a voice and the business wants to know how they’ve done. Cool.
What I’ve seen is people who don’t know the difference between feedback, encouragement and entitlement. In a perfect situation, feedback and encouragement work together to produce a nice concoction of things I can do better, tweak or change. They tell me ways I have done well and ideas I should continue to express and flesh out. But we all know it doesn’t always work out that way. And that’s life.
The entitlement issue however, we must do better.
What do I mean?
Well you know how you go to a restaurant and expect your fries to be fresh and good because you’re paying for them to be? If they miss the mark, you send them back. If they totally MISS the mark and so does your server, you call the manager in to fix the situation or you’re taking your money elsewhere? See, there is an expectation for your service to be what you want because you are paying in time and money to be there. You are expecting to “have it your way” like Burger King told you that you should.
My point: Don’t bring that mess in the church. Keep that somewhere else.
If we don’t like the music, if we don’t like the preaching and teaching, if we don’t like the chords on the guitar, if we don’t like this, if we don’t like that…by all means, express your concerns.
As my brother Rob would say, “However tho…” don’t think you’re entitled to have your preferences heard and then carried out immediately because you’re a good paying member of the church house. Um, that is not why we are here sir and ma’am. Sure, express what you’d like to see or hear. Express concerns and things you think could be clarified better. But please don’t voice your concerns and opinions to the people who are in leadership as if they MUST do what you are suggesting because your way is thee way. (unless it’s a matter of doctrine or something clearly unbiblical that needs immediate attention. At least in this instance, it is the Bible that is thee way.)
1. It’s just not cool man. It’s a little self-centered and rude.
2. Let’s remember love and grace for folks. That means chill out, and don’t be a bully. Express your thoughts, but remember you’re talking to someone who has been planning and practicing and prayerfully considering what can bless and be good for the congregation. These men and women are human and also apart of the church.
2b. Love hopes the best (as in, don’t assume the worst first about folk). The Bible had that to say.
3. For you to go up there and “let them know” what they aren’t doing right, or challenge them or whatever you have in your mind…do you really need to? Ask yourself that question first and give yourself the courtesy of an honest answer. If you still think you need to go say something, do it with respect and kindness. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t operate out of wanting it your way aka how you prefer it to be, not how it needs to be.
4. Leaders are not tap dancers or a theater troope for your entertainment. Don’t treat them like they are. I know the culture around us is coated in the corporate-cloak-of-wonder but these are people, not machines, deadlines, and jukeboxes.
4b. Leading is hard work. At least it should be. Remember that. Have some understanding.
5. This ain’t Burger King nor is it an invitation to build your own burrito (haha). And even if it was, I would think you’d treat the staff with respect regardless of how you want your burger’rrito.
So basically, express your thoughts but check your heart first. The church is for us to gather as believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We unite together to worship together and fellowship with one another. To walk with one another. To be on a mission with one another to take the gospel to the world around us and beyond. Yes, there are ways to tweak and challenge how we do things at our churches. But we should see those things through the lens of God’s grace, mercy, and love. And our hearts should go forward in patience, love, and humility. Not with a position of pride and entitlement. No one owes you anything. Our goal should be to see Jesus Christ exalted and his love seen in our actions, words, and lives.
Everything else is just along for the ride.
Have you had people come to you with concerns or encouragement about an area of ministry at your church? Were you motivated to grow and find solutions or simply discouraged/frustrated?