Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Self Serve or Not?

I was having a conversation with our staff about something the other day when we somehow ended up talking about the "self serve check out counter" at Home Depot. I assumed everybody disliked this impersonal experience as much as I did . . . the scanner never seems to work very well. . . . I'm never sure of the procedure . . . I don't dig that computer lady talking at me . . .

But alas. . . I was wrong. Several reported how much they love it. . . . quick, easy and you don't have to talk to anybody.

How about you? Like it or not?

What does all this have to do with "life together" in the church?

I hear it often . . . ."Grace is starting to feel impersonal!" I don't know if it's true or if the church is just a big easy target.

Is it true? How do we fight it? How do we make a big church feel like a small church? The Elders talk about it continually. I'd like to hear some of your thoughts.

Are you doing your part?


Jeannett Gibson said...

"Are you doing your part?"

Ah, therein lies the biggest question. I think it's super easy to sit and comment on how poorly things are (Church, Government, Anything), and spend hours upon hours discussing it...and then never actually doing anything proactive to change it. I see it in local government constantly. We recently had a meeting with 100 people complaining about the Sign Ordinance (touchy subject in Solvang, don't ask), so the City Council set up a sub-committee. Rooms were subsequently empty when it came time to do more than complain. Two years later, another 100 people petitioned the Council to change the sign rules, a second sub-committee...again, no one in the audience to make the changes. If it isn't obvious, it makes me weary of hearing it anymore.

All organizations could use change (even Grace) but then again, I would be concerned if everyone thought that Grace was perfect and needed no tweaking. Evaluating is healthy...but not if the elbow grease isn't available to implement the changes.

Tim Weaver said...

Grace is impersonal or Sunday morning is impersonal? Growth groups have hepled a lot in getting connected with people, but having less time between services means less talking and connecting time especially when you have things that have to be taken care of in those 15 minutes. That isn't very tweakable. It really takes all of us making an effort to reach out.

I like the self checkout (most of the time). I very rarely get much of a conversation with a checker because we are both tring to get going so that the people behind me in line can get out, too.

Brianna Heldt said...

I don't really feel like Grace is "impersonal"--it's just a huge church (growing up I attended a church of only 60 people!) With as many people as Grace has, inevitably some will think it's impersonal. But I think the only true way to completely solve that is to go to a smaller church.

Then you get into the issue of what is the ideal church size? Purpose of the church?

Personally I'm into the self-checkout, that way I don't have to answer questions about my kids, and I love ringing the stuff up (I know, what a dork.) But it IS very frustrating when something goes wrong and doesn't work.

Andy Gibson said...

I love the self-checkout. However, I do believe that they need an IQ requirement to use it, because there are just some people that try to use it...that shouldn't be. Maybe that is the engineer in me. I find it very easy to use and have never had a problem.

As for the church, I think Tim W. hit it. "It really takes all of us making an effort to reach out." The people complaining are the people that are unwilling to jump up and help. Those people, the naysayers, will always be there if they don't bother to include themselves. I have personal experience with this as I was one of them. I loved Grace, but always felt on the outside and felt like I knew nobody. Jeannett and I made an effort to get involved, and we have inherently met more and more people, more people know who we are, and we have made a lot more friends. And all of this has happened in my life while the church has almost doubled. It comes down to the individual person and their willingness to include themselves and/or serve.

We had a discussion about this at Growth Group, Santa Maria edition. Is it really the church's fault, or even the church's problem? Rather, I think we concluded, it is a cultural thing and it is possible that it can't be reversed. I don't know, what do you guys think?

Missy Grant said...

Hmmmm....interesting question. As far as the 'self-serve' checkout goes I just say no! Try going through that thing with four kids in tow. All it takes is one of them to lean on the scale and the computer lady starts telling me (loudly) that my scanned purchase doesn't match the weight of the object!!! All sorts of bells and whistles start going off and then you have to wait for someone to come and calmly re-set the machine! Meanwhile three registers over the line has moved through 9 people!!

Big church, little church. I've had some very interesting conversations with gals over the past year who even though they have been at Grace for a long time are starting to feel disconnected. What I have discovered is that those feelings really are personal. Each experience is a little different or has similar yet different qualities. I've challenged many gals to ask themself why they attend church. The answers are quite interesting. We know why we are called together to worship corporately. God's word explains and encourages us in this, but we tend to utilize the church for many other reasons outside of corporate worship and praise.

I think it is a two way street as far as effort and outreach. Some people just don't want to be touched by many aspects of our church and others just crave it (and everything in between). My experience at Grace has been those who look to it to meet their social needs and want to know everything about everything start feeling like it is too big. I think Grace has been successful in making a large congregation seem smaller. Don't get me wrong....there is still room for improvement.

There are many opportunities for people to meet in smaller groups. Those groups are not necessarily going to happen on a Sunday morning, though. Personal example - with my four kids I have a hard time talking with anyone on Sunday mornings. I used to find it very frustrating until I really looked at what God was saying to me. I was looking at Sunday morning differently from what the Lord wanted. He wanted me to come and praise and worship him with other believers. Now that is my focus and any conversations I do have or hugs I get are just that much more joyful. It is a bit of a season my family is in right now but I needed to change my point of view. Not change my church.

My last point is we all know that some of us are really comfortable stepping into a group and others aren't. Some so crave the small group atmosphere but need to buddy up with someone to help them take that step. I think our best job under the leadership is to buddy-up . That immediately makes a large group setting feel smaller.

Anyway....just my rambling thoughts. Hey Tim, are you going to post anything on Paul Anderson's testimony? Thanks


Ryan MacConnell said...

I think Grace is very personal. I come from a big church back home where it is impossible to get to know everyone. As a college student I felt so welcomed at Grace and I love how close the community within Grace feels.

As for self checkouts, as a Computer Science major I work with computers enough so I actually like standing in line so that I can say "Hi" to the checker.