This week I was in the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, GA with a couple friends. While we were there, we stopped in two stores.
The first was the Microsoft Store. I have only ventured into this store once or twice. It is a nice store. But it is very busy. The entire store is wrapped with a video wall broadcasting LOTS of information on dozens of products and ideas. There were tons of products on display….laptops, desktops, tablets, phones, Xbox, TV’s, game tables, and more. And, to make the selection even more diverse, each category had at least 3-6 brand names to choose from. While all the products were nice, well made, and offered great benefits; the selection was too big, too complicated, and just plain overwhelming. To top if off, the sales reps were not able to direct me to “the best” product because they have no loyalty to one brand over another. Too many choices, too much information, and not enough clarity, and as a result, I found myself quickly leaving without even trying out a product!
The second was the Apple Store. While we were there one of my friends made a comment about how simple the store was. It has very little flash, but is very functional. They essentially offer four things…iPod, iPhone, iPad, and the Macbook. While there are other products, they make the selection very simple. They have sales reps there to wait on you by listening to your needs and responding. Their job is to simply help you figure out what your next step is; in other words, which product you need. Once they do that, they equip you with the necessary training, tools, and accessories so you can maximize your choice! It is brilliant. It is intentionally simple! And, I often want to purchase something while I am in there. This day was no exception!
The reality is that our churches reflect one of these two stores.
So many churches reflect the Microsoft Store model. These churches want to give you 1000 choices, broadcast TONS of information and have “sales reps” who are not passionate or knowledgeable about one area or option. The guest, and even regular attender, never commits to one option or ministry because the choices are overwhelming. And, even when they do commit, the choice is either wrong, or they over commit which leads to burnout! The result is a church of consumers and observers, with few people truly making an investment to be involved. It seems good to offer LOTS of options. However, your people never truly become experts in any one area of ministry…and, in reality, it really keeps people from joining the movement God is doing in these churches.
Other churches, most often the largest and fastest growing, look like the Apple Store. Their initial impression is simple. They have a focus on a few things, and do them with excellence. Their “sales reps” are experts in a few things and do those things well. They help people discover their next steps by listening to them and guiding them through the process. They offer great information, training, and tools to help ensure incoming people are successful at joining the movement. They keep things intentionally simple. And, this is brilliant! As a result people quickly and easily buy into what they are doing!
What does your church look like? What do you need to do to become intentionally simple?