I was most interested to learn from a family in my church about their recent holiday in another state. Even more so when they had taken the time to visit a very well known church in that state. I asked them what was it that impressed them most about the church and what could we learn from them.
Their reply surprised me. It was the carpark attendants that impacted them and would even prompt them to return to the church again. They told of how the carpark attendants:
- warmly greeted them.
- helped direct them to a convenient section set aside for newcomers.
- escorted them to the church foyer, whilst holding an umbrella for them due to the rain.
- introduced them to ushers in the foyer who escorted them to seats in the large auditorium, whilst answering any questions they might have had. The ushers also introduced them to people seated near to them.
One of the characteristics of a great organisation is that of developing a culture that understands the value of “one percenters”, the habit of taking the small initiatives that can make a large impact. Clubs in the Australian Football League (AFL) have identified four key one percenters that have the potential to give a team a noticeable competitive edge. So important are these skills, that clubs record the number of one percenters each player performs in every game.
Chick-fil-A is the third largest restaurant chain in America and has developed its culture using one percenters to connect with customers. Staff have been trained to connect with customers by:
- making eye contact
- sharing a smile
- speaking enthusiastically and
- making a contact
And leaders are required to set the example using these four one percenters. On reflection, it struck me that the department stores and diners that I am most likely to visit are places where staff take small initiatives that encourage me to want to return.
So what does this have to do with our churches? Quite a lot I suggest, because EXCELLENCE ATTRACTS and our God is a God of excellence. God’s name is excellent (Psalm 8:1,9), God’s works are excellent (Deuteronomy 32:3-4), God’s ways are excellent (2 Samuel 22:31) and God’s will is excellent (Romans 12:2). Excellence is a standard that should continually occupy our thinking (Philippians 4:8-9).
Noted author Thom Rainer wrote a book called Breakout Churches, the story of thirteen churches and the leaders who moved them from stagnancy to growth and from mediocrity to greatness. The research team began with 400,000 churches and ended with thirteen. He writes, “An environment exists in the breakout churches that can best be described as an ‘environment of excellence’…… Everything the church does and is, gets measured against a barometer of excellence. From the cleanliness of the nursery to the quality of the preaching, ‘good’ is never enough. The church demands excellence in all things….. They don’t want to do anything unless they are doing their best.”
We need to oppose mediocrity. Oswald Chambers said, “Acting in a slovenly way is an insult to the Holy Spirit.” The Apostle Paul echoes these sentiments where he says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for people, since you know that you will receive an inheritance form the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24) On another occasion he said, But just as you EXCEL IN EVERYTHING, in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in your love for us – see that you also excel in the grace of giving.” (2 Corinthians 8:7)
So what are the characteristics that we need to look for and develop in people so that we might develop a culture of excellence where people are continually inspired to live a lifestyle of one percenters? I suggest the following;
People who :
- Value people
John Maxwell teaches that it is only people who value people that will add value to people and will consequently encourage others to add value to people.
- Go the second mile (Matthew 5:41)
Chick-fil-A has a second mile culture which they define as “doing good gestures that most customers wouldn’t expect from a fast food restaurant… It is doing more than you have to. Not only making sure that guests have a pleasant experience, but going above and beyond to make them feel like family.”
- Are Creative
The genuine one percenter person is continually thinking of ways to add value to people for it becomes an attitude that defines them. Christians have the most creative person living within them who will prompt one percenter people in the most creative and unusual way. At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Sue and I were prompted to place a package in each letterbox in our street with a container of hand sanitiser and a note that we were praying for them. Recently we felt prompted to deliver a tray of coffees and cakes to the staff of our car repairer for the excellent work they did in repairing Sue’s car.
- Take initiatives
They don’t wait to be asked. They are highly motivated and have come to realise that it is “more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35) Every time they get with people, they naturally add value to people with one percenters in their words and deeds.
- Are humble
They don’t need to get any credit for the initiatives they take to add value to people. They know that they always have a heavenly audience of one and that is all that matters. In fact, their great desire is that God might be glorified in all they do.
Great churches and organisations will be characterised by a culture of excellence where people have been equipped to live a life of one percenters and where leaders model such a life and where newcomers are continually attracted.
A ONE PERCENTER’S PRAYER
“And this is my prayer that your love may abound, with knowledge and all discernment, SO THAT YOU MAY APPROVE WHAT IS EXCELLENT (I want you to recognise the highest and the best J.B. Phillips) and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)