Word of the Week

Living in the Culture of a Better Offer

I had lunch today with two other pastors in the area and we were talking about what it means to lead in the Reston/ Herndon community. During the course of the conversation, the following was offered up by one of the other pastors: "We have trouble at our church of getting people to commit to weekend events, especially Friday nights because this is a culture of the 'getting a better offer mentality."  Basically, it is culturally acceptable not the commit or RSVP to anything because really what is in the back of our minds is- "I might get a better offer."

I felt great wisdom in this statement! For, this phrase really cuts to through crap  of what we might say is our reasoning even for me from time to time . . .

As much as we are a people living in a society that long to belong to something that matters and long to have an identity that is greater than ourselves, the fear of missing out of something better seems to be in all of our minds when we make commitments. Thus, we don't make a lot of them.

When I worked with teens at my previous congregation, this was the story of my life. I would plan and plan and plan, asking for RSVPs every week leading up to an event. Never would I know who was coming until the last minute or maybe even when the even actually started. I could get kids to come to events if I texted them the day telling them of the other kids that I knew were coming only. It was one big game of surprise. (And I have to admit this was one of my least favorite parts of working with youth).

So, then what are the ramifications for those of us who are working in commitment seeking organizations? What are we to do when weekend plans for folks are always up in the air or when saying yes to a Friday night or Saturday night fellowship event is hard to come by?

I think all we can do is BE the BETTER offer. We have to be about excellence in all we do. And, we have to plan ahead, thus not planning to fail-- getting the word out early about our programs and events. Realizing that maybe we might not know exactly who is going to come. This will just have to be ok.

But, long term, I think as pastors and leaders of other voluntary organizations, we can't be afraid to talk about commitment. This is one of the reasons that I've been talking a lot about church membership lately in worship and at the most recent congregational meeting. I believe that if we don't plan to stick around and invest our lives in an organization that gives us meaning, when the high waters come, we won't be around.  Church membership is a sign of such type of "long haul" investment that organizations need to have a steady foundation.  And it is the answer of the "better offer" that all of us might get for Sunday mornings.

I want to be around for the long term and am thankful that so many of recent have decided to join me in making this investment at Washington Plaza Baptist Church.  I know I won't get a better offer than to be here with all of you!