I remember opening up my very first iphone new in the box. It was a 4. Everything was crisp and clean. It was very simple. It almost felt like I was opening up a tiny work of art. Everything had its place. It was just so. I had opened up phones and computer boxes before. Every other brand felt like they did their best to jam everything in the box. The iphone was different. It was done with an eye for detail. Even the packaging was intentional because it was designed to give you an experience before you ever turned your phone on.
As Christians we should be that intentional. To be intentional is to live in line with our calling. When you are tasked with rescuing the world it is vitally important that we move forward in an intentional manner.
When you lack intentionality it shows. It shows when things aren’t taken care of. It shows when small details were never thought of. When it comes to Sunday it shows in everything from the signage to the bathroom to the way worship begins. It shows from how you treat visitors to the effectiveness of the sermon to the relevance of the Bible classes.
Everything we do must be done on purpose. This means we don’t teach a Bible class to get through a book of the Bible. Every Sunday school teacher should know why they teach. I believe we teach toward transformation. Once we know our purpose it begins to show in the things we do. We no longer teach 1 Peter to get through a chapter a week. We teach each part to assist and encourage those present to deepen in their faith as well as their knowledge…to move them into action consistent with what it is they believe.
This is true in our singing. This is true in our leadership. This is true in everything. People will notice.
How do you develop and demonstrate intentionality?
1 – Anticipate what a new person will experience and make adjustments accordingly. This means “forgetting” what it is like to be an insider and walking through the Sunday experience one week as if you had never been there before. Would you know where to go, what is being taught, or where the bathrooms are? Are the bathrooms clean or dirty? Does anyone care? It shows. People notice.
2 – Begin addressing their issues before they arise so they never become an issue. This means giving people the information they need before they have to ask for it. They need to know what is being taught and how to get there. This takes people and this takes signage/pamphlets to help new people navigate.
3 – Be relevant. This is different than being trendy. Are the classes and topics being covered meaningful to anyone but the teacher and preacher?
4 – Be on mission. A church can get a lot wrong for a visitor but if they sense that this church is on mission they will stick around.
5 – Know your message. This means we need to know who we are and what our core message is and repeat it until you are tired of saying it. I have come to realize after a few years of preaching and many years of teaching that you can’t just say something once. I once heard Dan Kimball say that he does basically the same sermon at the start of every year because 1) he assumes there are new people there who didn’t hear it the first time and 2) because those who have heard it before need to hear it again. Don’t overestimate your power and ability to communicate to think something only needs to be said once. If it needs to be said once it needs to be said a dozen times.
6 – Don’t waste people’s time. A 30 minute sermon that doesn’t tell you or teach you anything isn’t very respectful. People wouldn’t stick around for that in any other arena of their life. We only get 52 shots a year at what we do Sunday morning. It only makes sense that it is done intentionally.
7 – Communicate in more ways that one. Saying it isn’t enough. They need to hear it and see it. Your core message, the celebration of your wins, and what is happening in the church body needs to be broadcast and communicated in as many ways you have available.
8 – Be excited. If you aren’t excited about what is happening while you are in leadership why should anyone else be? If you aren’t excited then you need to consider why that is. There are legitimate reasons for that but we don’t want to get stuck there for long periods of time.
9 – Take care of the small details. What is the nicest bathroom you have ever been in? What made it nice? It probably wasn’t just the fixtures. It was probably because they took great care to provide small things that you found helpful. When you see it you think, wow…they actually thought of that! How nice!