In making a first impression…
The little things matter…
A number of years ago, while I was pastoring another church, I felt I needed more buy-in from them in helping to lead the church. They were a great group of people, passionate about reaching the lost, but they had begun to neglect some of the little things that had to keep a church operating. I wanted to encourage them to be more observant about what needed doing. (To be candid, the women did most of the work, so it was the men who needed the most encouragement.)
I conducted an experiment with the male church leaders. I placed a Sunday bulletin on the floor of the men’s bathroom, right in front of the urinal. It stayed there through two Sundays and no one picked it up. At the following Wednesday night leadership meeting, I brought the bulletin with me. I asked, “Does anyone recognize this?” Actually it looked vaguely familiar to most of the men.
I wasn’t trying to be cruel, but it was a tangible reminder to them that when making a first impression, the little things matter. This was a church plant. We didn’t have a custodial staff for the building we rented. We were the custodial staff. If the bulletin was to be picked up, one of us needed to do it.
They instantly recognized that every man visiting our church in the last couple weeks had probably seen that bulletin on the floor of the men’s room. We only had one urinal…and we had very good coffee. Although it was a minor thing…just a bulletin on the floor…it had the potential to leave a larger impression; especially if that same visitor returned the next week to find the same bulletin still on the floor. (Of course, in a church plant, by the second week we’ll even plug you in to pick up bulletins off the bathroom floor.)
From that point, some of the men became more observant about the little things that needed attention. They started to take ownership in their roles as church leaders. I felt I had more participation in leading the church. It turned out to be a very helpful illustration.