The Rev. Dr. Jim Ozier and Fiona Macleod, the conference guest speakers, encouraged church members to change the culture of the church by being the light of Christ and being welcoming to guests.
“Never be shocked at what the light of Christ reveals,” said Ozier. We find ourselves surrounded by the darkness of daily living, actions and beliefs that embarrass Jesus Christ.
The power of introduction can help change the culture of the church, as well as connect people to God, each other and the community. “Culture travels on our words. Don’t let that be an excuse not to grow.”
Ozier added that we have more first-time guests than most church members realize. “Do you see that person as a visitor or a guest?
Today, people don’t church shop. They are driven by some type of human hurt. When people are driven to find a church, they traditionally have six weeks to find a church. It can be the same church six times or it can be six different churches. We need to have that culture of hospitality. “You are the evangelists of the world,” said Ozier.
Ozier shared what they do in the North Texas Conference with the 5-10-Link method. This involves meeting people five minutes before the start of the service, five minutes after the end of the service and anyone who comes within 10 feet of you. After you talk to the person, link them up with someone in the congregation who has something in common, such as same workplace or industry, hobbies or more.
People often fail to make connections, because we can’t remember names. “There is no sin in not remembering names,” said Ozier, who also gave demonstrations on how to use the 5-10-Link method. “We need to practice hospitality to get ready for the big game of introducing people to Jesus Christ. If we practice the little things, the big things will follow.”
Macleod shared about the impact of organizational culture on employees or church members. “Culture intentionally leading powerfully with love trumps everything.”
Citing examples from Southwest Airlines, Macleod shared the three principles at Southwest: a warrior spirit, a servant’s heart and having a fun-loving attitude.
The warrior spirit involves doing whatever it takes, even as an underdog and pulling ourselves together to overcome the obstacle in front of us. Macleod challenged attendees to think about their local church: “Our faithful can roll their eyes a little.”
When faced with issuing a difficult corporate message, a focus group of Southwest employees shocked Macleod with their response. “Their only feedback was, ‘We’re ready, what is it we need to do?’ That’s the power of culture.”
Having a servant’s heart means focusing on others and not being competitive with each other. Leaders need to serve others first.
Fun-loving attitude means enjoying our work or ministry and each other. If we do that, there will be joy in the various things we do. “Creativity flourishes in that environment,” said Macleod. “Is your church a fun place to be? We often separate the business of the church with other things we enjoy.”
Southwest implemented a team of culture ambassadors who work to thank employees for their service. “It shows up in a big way and small meaningful touches.”
When the culture changes the environment, big things can happen. People feel valued and recognized. You see ordinary people do extraordinary things. “We all stand ready to inspire and be inspired. We long for more connection. We get tired sometimes. We get weary. But it starts with you.”
Macleod shared concepts starting with perspective. What do you see in the church? We need to see the past glories, future possibilities and current realities. “Do you see your church today as a possibility?”
Sometimes when something has failed, we don’t want to try again. “We are fearful to repeat history. Instead of playing to win, we’re playing not to lose.”