The Changing of a Culture (part 1 of 2) 12.18.08
The issue: The late culture at Grace
- The disruptions latecomers bring to the beginning of a worship service when not managed appropriately.
- How do we change a culture that is so prevalent in the country to not be the culture in our small little corner of the world.
- Who is negatively affected by our mismanagement of the distractions late guests/members/attenders bring. Apart from guests, as we start a service; are we valuing those that are timely in their seats and ready to begin worship more or are we paying more attention to those who are late thus enabling them to be a distraction?
- In general, our staff's strengths and weaknesses tend to rub off on most of our ministry leaders and members. If we all dressed sloppy, we would have more attenders that dress sloppy. And so it is with being timely. If we start everything late, won't people stop coming on time? How has our staff enabled this culture? How do we empower the staff to lead by example when they are serving on Sunday mornings? During the week, do we start meetings on time and finish them when we say we are going to finish them?
The collective solutions:
- We began a 10 minute countdown on all our TV media screens to help grab the attention of those in the lobby and sipping java in our cafe.
- At 4 minutes until service begins, we have live music specials begin playing in the Worship Center and close 3/4 of our doors to drive outside traffic in. The doors closing are a good sign to people not wanting to miss something. If you were in the parking lot at Disney and the gates began to close - you would probably sprint to make sure you get in. We want the same effect here. The music helps set the tone and make the 1st worship song more meaningful. Before we changed this, it seemed as though the first song was practice due to all the distractions from those who were late.
- As the countdown ends, all the main doors close and attenders are the escorted to the side entrance to prevent less distraction to those worshipping.
Has it worked? So far - yes. As long as your greeters and ushers deal with those that are late in a sensitive and welcoming fashion. This is one of those initiatives that needs sold well from the top down. If your ushers don't buy into a standard like this, those walking in 5 minutes late will not buy into it. The last thing you want is for one of your volunteers to be agreeing with someone that may question the new initiative or seem frustrated with it. You want everyone to understand you have many people that have put a lot of energy into making a 75 minute worship service valuable for all 75 minutes, not just the last 60 minutes.
One crack in a dam can lead to a flood. Make sure you communicate everything well and lead by example. Empower your volunteers to excel at making this work.
How has your church solved or not solved the late culture?