It’s all over the … well … news. Nightly network broadcasts, social media feeds, presidential tweets, and water-cooler conversations seem to revolve around these ideas of who said what and what did it mean and where was the source and were the numbers right and are these simply “alternative facts”?
News ends up as fake news if there’s no substance to it. If there aren’t facts to back it up…if reality doesn’t match the representation…if our talk doesn’t match our actions…it is, ultimately, fake news.
So what are the #fakenews topics that we might be guilty of spreading as a guest services team? Here are a few:
“You matter to us.” It takes a super-cold-hearted church person who would say that people don’t matter. But we often throw out those four words without thinking about the weight that they carry. If people matter, that means their feelings matter. Their experience matters. Their sense of belonging matters. And if we don’t pay attention to the small details (adequate parking, skeleton crew of volunteers, easy on-ramps for newcomers, safe and clean kids spaces), then what we’re actually saying is “Your attendance matters. Adding your head count to our annual report matters. But you? Not so much.”
“This is an unusual Sunday for us.” I hear this one more than I’d like to, and I understand that bad weekends happen. There’s an inadequate number of volunteers. Systems are going off the rails. The sound system is buggy or the worship team is flat or the sermon just fails to connect at any level. “This is unusual” can work if you say it once or twice per year, but if that line pops up more than that…it’s your usual. Are you allowing your excuses to trump your commitment to quality?
“Our Information Table can answer those questions.” Totally fine, as long as our Information Table volunteers are actually equipped with information. But too often, we spring announcements and events and last-minute changes on them without giving them the context and talking points they need to adequately walk our guests through it. When Info Table people don’t have info, it makes them feel like you’ve thrown them under the bus and makes your guests feel like you don’t have your stuff together.
“I really can’t do anything about it.” Fill in the blank on this one. Think back to the times you’ve said this, or any version of this: “That’s not my area.” “Way above my pay grade.” “Well, they told us that we had to…” While it may be true that an issue is outside of your jurisdictional leadership, it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything. You can empathize. You can take time to listen. You can pray with the guest for wisdom. You can help shape their perspective even if you can’t change the situation.
“Someone will follow up with you.” Please don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Don’t promise it if there’s a chance you can’t deliver it. Just don’t. As church leaders, we set up way too many expectations that are shattered because of shoddy follow up. Trust is broken, and guests are forced to ask: if they can’t follow up on this issue, what will happen when I have a really important issue?
In one sentence, what are your #fakenews topics that you hear at our churches? Comment below.
- I believe our grandparents called those “lies.”↩