OK, I admit it. All this travel over the last month has meant I’m a little behind in my blog reading. I’m starting to catch up this weekend, though, and I found this great post from Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users from a couple of weeks ago. For those of you in ministry, let me help interpret this for you.
For us, the colors refer to ministry directions and programs people think our churches should embrace. The simple lesson here is that when we try to please everyone and use all the colors, we end up with mud. We’re never good at anything, but we’re mediocre at a lot of things. Only problem is mud doesn’t equal effective ministry.
And, like Kathy suggests, there are some people inside and outside our ministries that we should listen to, and there are others we’d be better off to ignore. How do we respond to the various critics of our ministries? Here’s how I respond to the voices in my head:
1. People outside our church who hate our ministry and try to fix us. They might actually have some helpful feedback, but I don’t trust them. They’re mean-spirited. They want me to fail. I ignore these people.
2. People inside our church who hate our ministry and try to fix us. I work to help these people find another church. And, then I ignore them.
3. People who admit they don’t agree with our ministry, but want us to succeed. I consider the validity of their concerns, but acknowledge their critique may come from a lack of information or understanding. If they’re outside our church, I encourage them to check out the resources of WiredChurches.com to learn more about our ministry strategy. If they’re inside our church, I encourage them to attend Class 101 where we talk about the mission, vision and values of the church.
4. People inside our church who once embraced our vision or strategy, but now have specific questions or concerns about helping those inside our church. I listen cautiously. They may have lost focus of our primary mission to reach others. These can be the most dangerous people because they’re well-meaning, but they have a tendency to promote new programs and ministries that can take the church off course. Unfortunately, this is the group most church leaders listen to, and it’s the group that could potentially cause the most damage.
5. People inside our church who once embraced our vision or strategy, but now have specific questions or concerns about reaching those outside the church. I listen closely. They have our mission in mind. They may have a new idea that could help us sharpen our focus.
6. People we’re trying to reach that don’t demonstrate any interest in our ministry. I consider their criticism briefly and then move on. It’s that whole “shake the dust off your feet” principle. I remind myself that there are all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. We can’t reach everyone in our community. We should, however, still be reaching lots of people in our community, and that leads me to the group of people I listen to most closely…
7. People we’re trying to reach that have demonstrated an interest in our ministry. These are the outsiders that really capture my attention. They’re curious. They may have even taken one or two steps to try to connect with our ministry. If they raise a concern, I listen very closely and either try to fix the problem or teach through the issue so they have understanding. Either way, this group has my undivided attention.
What about you? Do you respond differently? Any groups of people that I’ve missed? How do you respond to that group? Are you focusing on just the colors that God has called you to use, or are you creating mud? Any of you shocked to learn that I may be ignoring you?