I’m a firm believer that life is a classroom, and that if we pay attention we can learn anything anywhere.
On a recent trip to the grocery store, I learned a few things — 10 to be exact — that I believe can help pastors and churches be more effective in ministry.
Here are my thoughts, in no particular order. Feel free to add to this list or challenge the list in the comments section.
1. Grocery stores have a prescribed order.
Every grocery store is organized. There are aisles, shelves and products, and each of them have a prescribed place.
Far too often, many of our churches lack order. When people show up, they have no idea what to expect.
There is something to be said for creativity and spontaneity in worship, but there is often a fine line between creativity and chaos. We must not become so creative that people can’t find what they’re looking for. They need to know that the milk and cheese is going to be in the same place each week.
This leads to my second observation …
2. Product placement.
Grocery store managers are intentional about how and where they place their products. When you walk into most grocery stores, the first thing you see is the produce section — the fresh fruit.
When people walk into our churches, the first thing they should see/feel/experience is the fresh fruit of our worship. Instead of fresh fruit, many churches are offering stale bread. Stale bread shouldn’t be at the front door. As a matter of fact, it shouldn’t even be in the store.
That leads me to another thought …
3. Expiration dates.
Grocery stores understand that EVERYTHING has a shelf life. When an item has passed its expiration date, the grocery store removes it from the shelves.
Churches are notorious for holding on to things well past their expiration date. We fall in love with a certain way of doing things and decide to keep it — even if it’s no longer effective.
We also have a difficult time removing leaders from the shelves whose tenure as an effective leader has expired. Even leaders have expiration dates and we must be careful not to hold on to titles and positions past the expiration date.
While on the subject of leadership, there’s another thing grocery stores have that most churches do not …