This quote from Mark Sanborn’s Fred 2.0 stirred my thinking significantly. Though targeted towards business owners, read carefully what he says here:
“Many resources, it seems, are undifferentiated commodities that we could get from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Employees who offer nothing different from other employees are interchangeable – and they likely won’t go far in their careers.
“If everything we provide, as individuals or organizations, is exactly the same as what others provide, there is no reason for customers to choose us, our products, or our services above others. That means the competition always will be based on price – lowest price, to be exact. If we want to be in demand as an employee or an employer, or as a product or service provider, we need to make sure we offer customers the ultimate differentiator: an extraordinary experience.” (emphasis added)
Read the bold italicized sentence again.
His point is – in business – if you want to set yourself apart from your competition, the way to do that is to ensure the customers’ experience with you and/or your product is Extraordinary. Different. Superior. Phenomenal. Mind-Blowing.
Here’s what has stirred my thinking: I think the exact same thing applies in marriage, in parenting, and – dare I say it – churches.
Wanna make sure your spouse doesn’t go looking for another ‘product’? Make sure you are always living to make him or her thrive (extraordinary experience). Make sure they know that your love for them is far superior than anyone or anything else.
Wanna make sure your kids stay connected with you after high school? Build a culture of love and joy and peace and fun and excitement and wisdom and compassion and discipline and character building. The ultimate differentiator is an extraordinary experience.
Or what about churches? How do we – as church leaders – differentiate ourselves, not from other churches, but from other things vying for our people’s time and attention? How do we make it to where our people desire to come worship corporately? Is it possible to build a culture where people prioritize attending church over their beds, brunch, the lake, a game?
Could it be that so many church people choose other things over regular church attendance – not because they are lazy and sinful (I know plenty of regular church attenders who are that – don’t you?), but because those charged with leading the church have defaulted to providing a mediocre experience over and over again?
Could it be that thousands of church people are being more impacted by ‘extra activities’ than their church experience? Is it that they are mis-prioritizing things in their lives, or are they merely doing what adds the most value to them?
Am I saying it is wrong to miss a Sunday to go to the lake? Of course not. Go and have fun.
Am I saying that all who skip church to do other things are intimately walking with Jesus? Nope. Not saying that either.
I just believe that we church people – especially us church leaders – could learn something from Mark Sanborn. As I think about many, many, many, many church services I have endured in my lifetime – to be honest – going to the lake or sleeping in an extra hour would have added much more value to my life.
Do I think it is all the church’s fault? No. Of course not. I know we live in a fallen world and we are sinners and are ‘prone to wander.’ But if the God we say we love and worship and serve is the Author of Extraordinary Experiences – should we not strive to do the same for His people when we gather? Maybe, just maybe they would have a reason to come back.