Monday, February 22, 2016

Guest vs Visitors

When you hear the words Visitor and Guest, do you consider them synonymous? Do you think we are splitting hairs by looking for a distinction between the 2 terms? I was very pleased to have responses from the attendees, with most if not all saying that “guest” was more:
> Relational
> Welcoming
> Personal
> Intentional (love that one for sure!!!)
Think about it in these common phrases.  Which ones feel right and which ones don't fit:
Guest of honor vs Visitor of honor
Guest blog vs. Visitor blog
Guest bedroom vs. Visitor bedroom
Guest bathroom vs. Visitor bathroom
Guest speaker vs. Visitor speaker
Guest Appearance vs. Visitor Appearance
Here is another many sports, you will have the HOME team and the VISITORS.  In this case, the visitor is actually your adversary. OUCH...not sure we want to consider those coming to our church for the first time as the adversary.
Below are “definitions” that I borrowed from some else…that I cannot recall, just don’t want you to think I was smart enough to come up with these on my own:
“Visitor” - is typically somebody who comes and goes without much preparation on our part or much thought afterward.
“Guest” - is typically a person who is cared for and has been intentionally prepared to attend. Most of the time, a guest is somebody who is a participant...a person looking for a specific experience.
For me it is pretty clear that if you are a church, you really are looking to have guests and not just visitors. We want people to feel a part…to feel welcomed…to feel as if we were expecting them to come and that we cared enough to prepare for them…and to follow up with them after.
To our guests…especially those that may not be believers or be far from God…these intentional shifts can make the world of difference. For the most part, we can make this adjustment to our “language” with little or no cost. Imagine that…a transformational change for little or no cost?!?!
Here are some practical ideas to help you implement this:
  1. Parking lot should have GUEST parking signs and not visitor
  2. Announcements…written or spoken…should address GUESTS
  3. Have a GUEST welcome area
  4. Possible have a GUEST reception area
  5. Avoid anything that references “members only”…this is polarizing
  6. Train your teams to identify and greet guests. Be creative, but not overbearing.
  7. Prepare your facility for a great guest experience…not just the “special” things (aspects I consider “Second Mile” hospitality) like a free gift card or t-shirt or free coffee or mints in the restroom. But also what I call the “First Mile” standards like:
    1. Adequate paper products in the restrooms. Is it more important to your guests to have mints or toilet paper? This is no joke. The lack of one will make a big impression!
    2. Clean facilities. This tells a lot to a guest as to what you value…and if you don’t value your facility when expecting guests, how can you expect them to think you will value them? This includes odors.
    3. Trash receptacles emptied regularly. Aromatic hand soap is cool in a restroom…I like it. But not if the trash cans are overflowing with waste.
    4. Things work. This is everything from the toilets, to sinks, to lights, to HVAC, to sound system, to TV monitors, to ­­­­________ (you fill in the blank).
These simple…but intentional adjustments...can transform your guest’s experience. If we believe that our “church” is actually not for those regularly attending but rather for those not here yet, then why would we not take steps to make this the best experience ever?

(this post was written by Tim Cool)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Not everything happens for a reason

Not Everything Happens For a Reason. By  


Have you ever found yourself, in the midst of unimaginable grief, pain, heartache, or despair, wondering how you are going to make it through another day? Wondering where your next breath is going to come from? Your world has crumbled beneath you and you are left feeling shattered, empty, and hopeless.

And then a well meaning friend or family member comes along and drops the infamous “Everything happens for a reason” bomb. You smile kindly and nod- that’s all you can do to keep yourself from punching them in the face.

You can’t possibly imagine a reason for what just happened. 

The more you stew about a possible reason for your pain, the angrier you become. You try desperately to make sense of a situation that won’t ever make sense. You reach for answers but none come.

I spent years searching for answers, trying to find reasons that would bring an end to my pain. I thought that if I could find the cause, I could treat the condition. But what I found through years of searching, experiencing, and living is that often there is no reason for why tragedy has occurred.

Sometimes bad things happen for no reason other than we are human beings having a human experience. Pain, heartache, grief, loss, disease, and death are inevitable parts of the human experience. 

We hear people say “Life dealt me a crappy hand” as if pain and hardships are not the norm. We assume that life is supposed to be easy and when things don’t go our way, we feel like we have been wronged. Human beings seem to have an innate sense of entitlement. We think that we are owed a pain free existence.

But the truth is that human beings are not exempt from the human experience. And struggle is an innate part of the human experience. None of us are exceptions to this rule. We all struggle. We all suffer. We all experience pain, heartache, and loss. And sometimes, there’s just no reason other than we are human and pain is a part of the process.

I recently had a conversation with a friend who was struggling to find peace with “God’s plan” for her life including the recent death of a loved one.

“How could this possibly be God’s will?” she asked.

Here’s what I’ve come to know about God’s will:

God’s will is not the path we walk, but rather how we walk the path.  

God’s plan is never for someone to have cancer. God’s will is not for an innocent child to be brutally murdered. God’s will is not for a teenage girl to be raped. God’s will is not chronic pain, illness, disability, or death.

God’s will is not an event that happens to us, it’s how we respond to what happens. 

God’s will for us is to walk with Him through the cancer. Through the abuse. Through the death. Through the illness. God’s will is for us to draw close to him in the midst of pain. God’s will is for us to use our painful life events to carry his message of hope, grace, forgiveness, and mercy. 

God’s plan was never for pain to be part of the human experience. His plan was for us to live in peace and harmony with Him. The human experience became painful when sin entered the world. Our own free will weaved threads of tragedy, loss, heartache, and pain into the human experience

God is not responsible for our pain. We are not responsible for our pain. What happened in the Garden of Eden is responsible for the human condition. And the human condition is hard wired for pain and suffering. God is not causing us to hurt. He is hurting with us. What we do with our hurt is what matters. How we handle tragedy is what brings purpose into our pain.

There’s hardly ever a justifiable reason for the bad things that happen in life. Tragic loss is not laced with inherent specs of good. I used to get so mad when people would say, “you can find good in every situation.” That’s just not true. There was nothing good about being raped. There is no good in murder or abuse. We have to create the good. We have to choose to respond in a way that brings good into an impossible situation. We have to choose to give purpose and meaning to our suffering.

Not everything happens for a reason. But in everything that happens, there can be a reason to bring hope and healing to others. God can use our pain for a greater good if we choose to let Him in.