Thursday, February 26, 2009


The church I attend is sixteen months old. We continue to meet in a school gym, so set-up and tear down is a part of our current reality. A few weeks ago I was helping disassemble the church facility. I reached down to pick up a plastic container. This was a container I had often lifted, carried and moved. It is not all too heavy. Reaching down I mentally told myself, `lift with your legs.’ Evidently my body chose to ignore the mental prompting. Straightening up my back pulled! I knew it immediately. This was a bad one.

I managed to walk across the room and place the container on a speaker box. I attempted to “work out” the tightness. It was a slow walk to my car. I painfully and gingerly got myself behind the wheel. I decided the next best stop for me would be the local CVS Drug store. I would get myself some physical aid: Doan’s pills and one of those little heat packs.

Getting out of the car was extraordinarily painful. Any twist, slight turn, any hint of bending, movement of my legs resulted in a vivid reminder my back hurt. I literally shuffled into the store. Locating the correct aisle I slowly moved down the row scanning the shelves for the desired product.

I found the location for the back medication and I could hardly believe it. It was housed on the second shelf from the floor! I stood there both amused and amazed. What idiot would put those products there? Did it not occur to somebody, anybody, this might be a bit difficult for those in need?

I know there is a whole science of product placement. Evidently those “people” felt these did not warrant a higher shelf. Instead of thinking of the end users and their needs to dictate location they placed them either unthinkingly or with incorrect thinking. I guess they assumed if someone REALLY wanted it, they would figure a way to get it. IF it was easy, might not be worth it.

Sadly, this is how many churches approach those interested in spiritual things. They place stuff in places where those who need it might have difficulty reaching it. What shelf is your spiritual helped placed? Can those in pain get at it? Here are some considerations.

Do you translate, or do you expect them to interrupt? Is the gospel contextualized in such a way that today’s spiritually curious are given handles to grasp? Or do we expect them to figure it out? It is true the gospel carries a sense of mystery and not all things can be explained adequately, but most churches can do better.

Do you clarify, or do you cloud? This has to do with the activities of the church. It is an epidemic in churches that when you read their worship folder and/or bulletin you have no idea what they are communicating. Initials of programs are used, locations of events are given with no directions and people to be contacted are expected to be known. Over clarify, don’t overly cloud.

What are your expectations? Do you expect new people to show up? Too many churches approach all they do as if no one new will be present. Our expectations will dictate our approach. Expecting people in need will help us address those needs.

Whose eyes do you view the church? Walk your property, watch your worship service, and view your facility as a first time guest. Ask yourself what you see if you were new? This is difficult, but not impossible. What might have happened if someone had walked the aisle of CVS and noted that it might be a challenge for people in back pain to reach the lower shelf?

What are the voices you hear? Do you listen to long time attendees alone? Or do you factor in those newer? We all listen to others? The question is who are the others? How much weight do we lend to whose comments?

People are interested in spiritual stuff. People enter our churches in search of help. When they come to find what we have, will they be able to get to it?

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