I love trying new things. More than that, I like helping other people and churches try new things. It is one thing to play and another thing to implement. Before we decide to invest the time, effort, attention, and funding it takes to get a new thing off the ground, we really need to spend adequate time asking ourselves, “Why?”
Why are we doing this new thing? What is that we want to do that we aren’t already doing? What is it that we are doing that we are hoping to do better? What is the outcome we desire from this new thing? What do we expect reality to look like when this new thing is implemented?
If we are going to create a website for our church (which, if you don’t have one, you should) or create a new one to replace what we have, we need to ask “Why?” I think a solid answer to that question is, “because we want to reach new people.” If that is the answer to your “Why?” then you would go about building a website that will be effective in turning website visitors into church visitors. But when we answer the question that way, we have to ask our church, “Do we really want new visitors?” What would that new reality look like? Are we ready for that? Do we have a hospitality plan in place so that these guests feel welcome? Do we have dynamic worship that will connect them to an experience of God? Do we have growth opportunities to help them develop as disciples? Do we have opportunities to serve in the community and beyond that will help them connect to a life of service? If there are a lot of “No’s” to those questions, maybe we need to do some work before we get back to thinking about a website.
If we think it is time for our church to jump into the world of social media and set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., we need to pause and ask, “Why?” What is it that we hope to do? What do we expect to happen? What will it look like if it is successful? I think many churches have trouble with their social media efforts precisely because they have no idea “why” they are doing it. The “How” will be largely shaped by the “Why?”
“Why?” isn’t just for new things either. It is a good practice to take inventory of everything your church is doing using the simple test of “Why?”
There is an old preacher’s story that goes something like this:
A pastor arrived at her new congregation and stood up front to lead her first worship service. She led them through hymns, prayer, and greetings. When they go to the Apostles’ Creed, the strangest thing happened. She asked them to stand, and they did. But, as they did, they all turned around to face the back of the church. They recited the creed together, turned back around, and when she told them to be seated, they sat. Being new, she ignored it. However, the next week, the exact same thing happened – everyone turned toward the back of the sanctuary during the creed. Finally, after worship was over, she talked to a long-time member of the church. She asked, “Why does everyone turn around during the Apostle’s Creed?” The man answered her, “That’s simple. We used to have it printed on a banner that hung in the back of the sanctuary. It finally got tattered, and everyone knows the creed now anyway, so we took it down.”
“Why?” is pretty important.