The last to know is usually the one who most needs to know. I’m talking about the business owner who’s unaware their business is failing until it’s time to close the doors for good. Or the pastor whose obilvious to their congregation’s decline until there’s no congregation left. The two share a lot in common. Mainly they’re surprised when the end finally comes, while everyone else saw it coming from a mile away.
I thought about that yesterday when I passed a restaurant near our house that had recently closed. There was a “for rent” sign hanging in the window of the empty building. As I drove by I wondered if the owner knew why it didn’t make it? Because I did.
We used to stop in there. They had a good location, fair prices and a decent menu. It was small but convenient. Perfect for a quick meal on the way to the ball fields or a “to-go” order when we didn’t feel like cooking. But we stopped going.
It had nothing to do with the economy, competition or any of the other reasons owners usually cite for closing. It had to do with a couple of bad experiences. One time our order was messed up. The other our food was undercooked. We didn’t complain or ask to speak to a manager. We just quietly decided to stop eating there.
I know, I know. We should have said something. We should have given them a chance to make it right. But what can I say? We’re typical customers. We don’t complain to those who can do something about it. We complain to our friends. And then they stop going there as well.
That’s just reality. If you’re a business owner it’s up to you. People aren’t going to tell you what’s wrong. You have to listen and watch. The same is true for pastors and church leaders. Most people won’t complain when they have a negative experience at your church. They’ll just quietly leave. The complainers always stay. 🙂
That’s why we have to be proactive. Wake up. Look around. Ask questions. Listen. Lead. We can’t sit by and hope things get better. We have to step up and do something. Improve what needs improved. Change what needs changed. We have to raise our awareness because if we’re the last to see the problem then we’ve got a real problem.
So how does your church address this issue? How do you evaluate and gather feedback? How do you listen and gather info?