I’ve been working on a theory for the last several years. I have absolutely no way to substantiate it, so it makes perfect sense that I’d put it out on a blog for all the world to see. Or my 17 readers. Whatev.
My theory involves corporate giant Wal-Mart, a retailing behemoth that would surely realize that a middle-management church staff member / hack blogger has no real assets to attack in a defamation lawsuit. You know, if they did that sort of thing.
So here it is: I think that the widespread Wal-Mart remodelings of recent years have served to cover up a huge Wal-Mart problem…bad shopping carts. I want you to think about this with me for a moment: all newly-built or newly-remodeled Wal-Marts have crazy bumpy tiles in the entryways where you grab your cart. Bumpy tiles that rival off-road ATV courses. Bumpy tiles that rise and fall like sand dunes in the Sahara.
Bumpy tiles that mask bad wheels.
You know the scenario. You’ve grabbed your cart, maneuvered the engineered potholes, steam cleaned the cart handles (What? Your Wal-Mart doesn’t have a steam cleaner to kill the bacteria on the handles? Oh, the humanity.), and headed towards the Breyer’s Chocolate Chocolate Chip ice cream, arguably the best flavor in the frozen section. And then you hear it…the CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! CLACK! of the cart with one bad wheel. Oh sure, you couldn’t hear it while you were steering across the Fallujah entryway. But now that you’re on smooth ground, everybody in the store is looking around to figure out who the jerk is who sounds like they tossed gravel in a dryer and hit the “fluff” button.
It’s enough to make you want to abandon the cart and load up your arms, balancing your way to the speedy checkout, which will be occupied by some moron paying for 42 items. With a check.
My postulated point? Those tiles trick you into believing that your experience is going to be smoother than it actually is. I understand that cart wheels go bad. I realize that not every buggy comes standard with shock absorbers and all-weather radials. But the tricky tiles hide that fact until it’s too late or you’re too frustrated to do anything about it.
Do we do the same things in our churches? Do we have tricky tiles that mask fixable issues from the beginning? Maybe it’s a lot of hype about the weekend experience…but the experience never happens. Maybe it’s the promise of life long relationships in a small group…but the leader never follows up when someone shows interest in the group. Perhaps it’s a bang-up special service like Easter or “bring a friend” day, and that glitz is never ever repeated.
Whether it’s a guest’s experience or a repeated dropped ball with a long-time member, our tricky tiles can derail someone’s ability to stick around. Don’t mask a fixable issue. Just fix it.