I haven't received any specific questions this week, so I'm going to answer a question that Anthony Coppedge posed on his blog Thursday. Here's the entry. He humbly asked for other's thoughts before making his own suggestions. Go check it out, and read the responses on his pages' comments section.
One of Anthony Coppedge's readers posed this question:
"I've been trying to discuss the issue of 'quality' within the church, and I seem to be getting a bunch of blank stares from my pastor every time I talk to him about the issue. What do I do?"Here's my stab at an answer.
When someone looks at me blankly, that’s probably because I’m somehow speaking a language they don’t understand. Maybe I’m talking too much about impedance mismatches, beam width, and Foot-Lamberts. Or maybe we just don’t have the same definition of a more common term, in this case “quality.”
If my team and I were in this situation, these would be the steps I would have us take to get us all on the same page, and hopefully moving forward toward improved quality.
- Pray. Enough said.
- Prepare ourselves for a long conversation. It sounds like this person has already attempted several times to have a discussion with their pastor. This is a blessing! At least he has his pastor's ear. Remember that God is very patient with us as we learn new things. 1 Timothy 1:15-16 says, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life." We need to be ready to follow Christ's example of patience with us (the worst of sinners) by preparing for a multiple-step conversation with our pastor. Every time we don't make the amount of progress we like, we should remember how many sins we've been forgiven, and ask God to give us his patience.
- Biblically define our motives for quality. Remember the church is about God more than meeting the standards of the world. We need to find a passage in Scripture that really does call us to quality for the glory of God and help us define what that looks like. Colossians 3 is an example. It goes like this: "Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." Here is a clear call for quality, and it helps us define it as well. Quality is working heartily, sincerely doing everything you do as well as you can because God is watching, not because of what others see (or don't notice). There are other similar passages. The good part of this is that we get to test our own motives as well as show our pastor that we want to bring God glory, not just get our preferences.
- Recommend one or two ways to improve quality. I think there are three things that will likely shut down the conversation: our pastor gets overwhelmed with all our ideas, or he thinks they are too expensive and time-consuming. The way to alleviate these is to lay down our own preferences for the sake of the church. Even though we have a long list of ways to improve, we should only offer one or two suggestions to start. This will alleviate the overwhelmed sense he may get.
- Recommend inexpensive ways to improve quality. Let's admit it, we all need new equipment somewhere. But there are inexpensive (even free) ways to improve. Recommend those first, even if they aren't the most glaring issues in your mind. This will make sure we have our pastors confidence that it's not just about new gear. After a few rounds of free or inexpensive improvements, he'll probably be ready to receive ideas that will affect the budget.
- Recommend quality improvements that we can implement. The apostles in Acts waren't called to serve tables over preaching the word and prayer, and our pastor isn't called to solder cables either. We need to be 100% ready to offer our time and services to implement the great ideas we have. We will more likely walk away with our pastor's blessing on a project if it can be done without a lot of his time. Obviously, that's not always possible. But start with ones that he doesn't need to invest much into but he will still see the results.
- Review the results. Watch carefully to see if quality is improved. Ask others if it's making a difference and how much. Make sure that he knows and sees how things are going on the project and that he is aware of the impact it's having. But also be honest with him. Don't use this as a moment of manipulation to just get your next project underway.
- Be faithful. Go back to step 4 (or 3 or 2 or 1) and start again. If we make incremental improvements over the long haul, we'll start to notice quality differences. Hopefully we'll be able to help our pastor gain a desire to glorify God with excellence in the process.
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