Did you know that Starbucks has provided clean water to Africa, organized local service projects and even helped celebrate Christmas? For the next five minutes, let’s set aside the recent #redcup controversy and learn from an organization that engages many of the same causes as your church.
When Howard Schultz returned as CEO of Starbucks in 2008, he found a company that had outgrown its success. Rapid expansion with a desire to reach the masses led to a company devoid of its “soul.” Reflecting on this, Schultz wrote:
“Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become. Large numbers that once captivated me…are not what matter. The only number that matters is ‘one.’ One cup. One customer. One partner. One experience at a time. We had to get back to what mattered most.” (Onward, 156)
What does this have to do with your church?
It’s easier than ever for church leaders to become consumed by growth. The rise of the megachurch, social media comparison and fastest growing churches lists make it feel like growth is the goal. Worse, it’s easy to disguise our obsession with “bigger” as mission-mindedness. After all, getting bigger means more people meeting Jesus and growing spiritually. Right?
Is it possible that our passion for reaching more people actually gets in the way of our ability to make a difference in their lives?
There’s a big difference between getting 1,000 people in your church and spiritually leading 1,000 individuals.
Here’s what Schultz had to say about leading large crowds: “A store manager’s job is not to oversee millions of customer transactions a week, but one transaction millions of times a week.” (Onward, 201)
As your church experiences larger crowds around Christmas and the New Year, are your leaders prepared to handle more experiences of “one”? Here are a few ways to make it personal:
1. Ensure that personal connections aren’t overtaken by systems.
As you grow, it is natural to begin using systems to keep track of people. But those systems cannot replace personal connections. Build a volunteer team focused on following up with phone calls. Ask ushers to take ownership of the people who sit in their sections. Create a clear space in the building where any question can be answered. In essence, look for every opportunity to personally connect with each “one.”