“The Lord God will be their light.”
My visit to a Lowe’s Home Center store recently illustrated for me – in a secular setting! – two of the key strategic principles for local church transformation: radical hospitality and extravagant generosity.
Soon after entering the building, my face (no doubt) revealed my frustration in seeking a rather uncommon replacement bulb for our range hood in the kitchen. An employee wearing a Lowe’s apron stopped her rapid stroll in order to offer assistance, and when she didn’t know the specific location of these light bulbs, she took me to another employee who did. He then walked with me across half of the warehouse, pointed me to the appropriate shelf, and helped me measure the prongs on the old bulb until (together) we identified a new one which would work. I said to him, “Without you, I would have been here for a full half hour!” He thanked me for shopping at Lowe’s and wished me a pleasant weekend.
Radical hospitality puts the needs of the guest FIRST. Does the visitor to the worship service at your church receive such hospitable attention, from her entrance through the front door…until her return to the parking lot?
As I checked-out with my purchase, another employee in a Lowe’s apron took my ten dollar bill and then asked if I’d like to donate the $0.32 portion of my change to the USO (an organization which provides support for military families). Have you noticed in your local community these stores which boldly ask you to donate a portion of your change to a mission? They have the mechanism, they are frank in making the “ask,” and the funds they raise are – I trust – well-used in the community. In this particular case, I chose to say, “No, thank you”….giving me opportunity to mention gently that I tithe to my church. But what was not lost on me was the reality that Lowes, I suspect, has a more assertive and effective method of promoting generosity than most of our local churches do. Make the “ask,” regularly! Let folks know where the money will go. And give them room (always) to say without any judgment or guilt, “No, thank you – not at this time.”
Extravagant generosity will occur in our churches only if we plan for it.
Has a light bulb gone on for you as you think about the practices of your congregation? By now you know my passion for local church transformation. I hope, as I share some of these strategies, that God will bless your efforts in the context where you worship and serve.