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From Good to Unforgettable

Laura and I had a double-date last Friday night at a well-known, local steak house, and the steak and service were . . . remarkable.

Have you ever been to a restaurant where you were so impressed with the food and service, it was unforgettable?  Have you ever stayed at a hotel where the service staff went way above normal expectations, and your stay was unforgettable? 

Have you ever visited a church for a weekend service where your experience was, well, quite forgettable?

Why is it that some within food and hotel industries go above-and-beyond to create such remarkable experiences that people can’t wait to come back, but many in the church “industry” treat guests as outsiders with whom they would rather not bother? Churches should be leading the charge in doing everything possible to connect with and engage guests.  After all, building relationships that last for an eternity is a far bigger concern than a quarterly return for shareholders.

In their book The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath, tell the story of Magic Castle Hotel, one of the three top-rated hotels in Los Angeles.  How did this small, non-chain hotel beat out the likes of the Four Seasons Hotel at Beverly Hills and the Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles? 

Unlike their name, it wasn’t magic.  What this unimpressive looking hotel did was create over-the-top impressive experiences. 

For example, mounted to a wall near their small, courtyard swimming pool is a cherry-red phone. “You pick it up and someone answers, `Hello, Popsicle Hotline.’  You place an order, and minutes later, a staffer wearing white gloves delivers your cherry, orange, or grape Popsicles to you at poolside.  On a silver tray.  For free” (10).

They also include a snack menu ranging from Kit-Kats to Cheetos to root beer that can be ordered . . . for free.  On top of that are board games and DVDs that can all be rented . . . for free.  Three times a week, magicians do magic tricks during breakfast.  And then there’s the laundry service where “your clothes are returned later in the day, wrapped in butcher paper and tied up with twine and a sprig of lavender” (idem.).  And did I mentioned that all this is provided . . . for free?

The magic in Magic Castle is that they obsess over every detail.  Hotel guests will forgive unimpressive room décor on account of radically impressive service experiences.

Yes, churches could use a little (or big) dose of the “magic” seen at Magic Castle.  And not to earn bigger profits, but to earn bigger trust for deeper relationships that last for eternity. 

What are you willing to do to invest in relationships that could introduce people to the most important relationship they could ever have—with Jesus Christ?

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19, NIV).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

Worthy of Our Calling

My daughter, Anna, and I went grocery shopping yesterday. I told her that I felt like I was on vacation because the only time I go grocery shopping is when we take a family vacation. (Don’t judge me.)

For some reason, grocery shopping led to a conversation about marriage, and I shared with my single daughter that marriage can be difficult even in the best of circumstances, and then when you throw in our selfishness and pride, marriage can get downright ugly.

I find this in myself far too often: I want to win more than I want reconciliation. And this surfaces over the silliest of things, such as arguing over what we had for supper last Friday night. Me: “I had a baked potato.” Laura: “No, you had mashed potatoes. Don’t you remember?” Me: “NO! It was a baked potato!” Laura: “Whatever you say, dear.” And she rolls her eyes.

If I center my marriage on being right rather than on being relationally healthy, I will always succumb to the temptation of pride and selfishness. I will see every issue as a competition where there’s a winner and a loser, and I will do everything possible to prove that I’m right—even if the issue is what I had for supper.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes that we are to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling . . . with all humility and gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2). I know I should display this in relationships with friends, fellow believers, and people who don’t believe in Jesus, but do I display this with my wife? I hope so.

Eighteenth-century preachers, John Wesley and George Whitefield, were good friends until their doctrinal differences divided them. Years later, they reconciled, even though their followers did not. The story is told that after Whitefield’s death, one of Wesley’s followers asked him, “Do you think you’ll see Mr. Whitefield in heaven?”

Wesley replied that he didn’t expect to see Whitefield there. Delighted with Wesley’s response, the woman pressed him further. “Then you don’t really believe he was converted?”

“Converted? Of course, he’s converted,” Wesley responded. “But I do not expect to see him in heaven because he will be so close to the throne of God, and I so far away, that I doubt I will be able to see him” (Revolution Within, 177).

Humility and gentleness—two traits we all need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Maybe, like me, you have a much easier time showing those traits to people at work than to your family at home.

Let’s make the choice to grow in humility and gentleness so that our marriages and families are not based on who is right but on being right in how we treat one another.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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