The value of Imputation

How I interact with a product or service, tells me the value I should place on it. If you read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, you see early on in the book the three-pronged approach to apples marketing and you can still see these things played out in there business today. 

Empathy – An accurate understanding of the needs of the customer. This is not drawn from a survey or a focus group, but a combination of feedback and some would say prophesy. Steve was quoted as saying “the customer doesn’t know what they want until you show it to them.” And there is some truth to that….if the iPhone was designed by focus groups, it would resemble at TV remote more than a phone with any number of options available. 

Focus- a search to establish what you can bring to a product or market and say no to everything else. This is more difficult to do than you think. 

Imputation – a customers interaction with not just a product, but everything that has to do with that product tells them the value they should attach to that product. That’s why there’s such detail that goes into even the packaging of apples products….and more times than not, people keep that packaging, it seems to have too much value to throw away. 

It’s the third one that seems to be the most difficult to consistently perform in church work…imputation.

We work hard many times at the product, hours and hours and then the effort to which we create an environment for that product is minimal. A quick example…..it does no good to start a new program, if the information about that program is ran off on the copier on Friday afternoon. The usual response is a something like “they’re just going to throw it in the trash anyway, don’t put any effort into it.” And at face value, that sounds right. I’ve even caught myself saying things like that, but the reality is, they will throw it in the trash because you didn’t put the care into the presentation of the program that you put into the creation of the program. The best initiatives have both a high value on the product itself, as well as the presentation of the product. When you create something, as you create you must be thinking of the “packaging” that accompanies it in a parallel fashion to the product or program itself.

In church work, the greeters and parking lot team tell me how I am to feel about this place. The brochure or bulletin and hand outs tell me the value I should attach to whatever they are telling me about. The quality of the presentation, regardless of style, will communicate a value. That doesn’t mean everything should be overly polished and produced. Above all, be yourself, be authentic, but be the best version of yourself that you can be…it speaks volumes…and values!

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The Dark Side of the Tipping Point

What I’m about to explain is my observation of trends, fashion and popularity. There is also no moral attachment to outcomes of what’s described… I don’t believe there is a better or worse, this is just the way I see things happen.

I’ve started seeing it happen in my Facebook feed. A couple weeks or so ago I began to see random people (of some connection obviously or they wouldn’t be in my FB feed) start posting videos of themselves dumping ice cold water over their heads. Then more and more, day by day I saw people, some now that I knew, start posting those videos and challenging others to raise money for ALS. And then it became pretty much my entire feed, on Facebook, and twitter…..everyone was raising money by putting ice cold water on their heads. And it was on the morning shows….it has now reached the tipping point of mass awareness and consumption.

…..cue the haters.

I don’t mean that in a bad way, but its just a reality. If you have ever read the book “Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell, you are familiar with the phrase and how he dissects how certain things, whether its a catch-phrase or TV show, can reach that tipping point and cross boundaries into the populous of the majority.

Now for whatever reason, when this happens, there is inevitably an accompanying dark side that comes along with “acceptance by the masses.” It happens all the time in the entertainment and arts world. There’s a new breakout show that “everyone” that is “cool” or “hip” is raving over. As a result, more people watch, and more people watch, then all of the sudden….too many people watch and its no longer this minority of cultural creatives that know about it, but everyone is talking about it….and it gets flipped on. The most recent example of this I can think of is “Duck Dynasty.” Once they were everywhere….and I mean everywhere, it wasn’t the thing “you gotta watch.”

You’ve probably heard someone say “I finally decided to spike my hair, and now everyone’s parting it again,” or “why are they rolling up their pants….I thought we quit doing that?!?” It happens in fashion especially. Things are really cyclical, so once something is a definite “no-no” across the board….get ready to see it again 🙂

In music it can be a bitter-sweet pill to swallow. I remember when Coldplay first came out. All of the cool kids were going bonkers over “clocks.”  Then after about a year, you couldn’t get away from “clocks”….it was everywhere: intros to TV shows, radio spots, commercials, etc…. And then “clocks” was no longer cool.

For whatever reason, for something to be trendy, it can only be cool until that point where it is accepted by the populous at large, then it is not. I don’t know why this is, but this has been my observance in our culture for the past decade.

So what does this mean in the world of church programs and presentations? It doesn’t mean we should chase cool….thats futile and really not what guiding peoples spiritual formation is about. It conversely doesn’t mean we ignore cultural trends and stick our heads in the sand about where people are at, what they are watching or listening to. It means more than ever, we have to be in our world, but not of it. Knowing the trends that are taking place, knowing the cycles that happen in our communities and using them as an engagement point to draw people’s attention to the timelessness and steadfastness of Jesus…that’s what we do.

Garth Brooks, Worship, and “the moment.”

Garth Brooks is coming out of retirement. Thats good news for us country fans from the 90’s. I went to a Garth concert when I was in high school. I’m not sure what the album was he was touring, but it was the one with the song “Two Pina Coladas”….I remember that much. I’ll never forget moments of the concert….incredible. It’s no wonder that we won entertainer of the year, year after year! There were two significant things that happened at the concert.

The first was worship. This is not a new thought. You’ll often hear of teachers, preachers, and worship leaders talk about the worship they see at at events other than church, i.e., football games or concerts (especially U2, which we are fascinated with because of Bono and his ambiguous spirituality that we can’t seem to fit in a box). And this was was one of those moments. It came after the band was just rocking it out on a song, then Garth emerges from the walkway from under the stage, guitar strapped on and sings the following lyrics…”Just the other night, at a home-town football game..” and that was it. For the next 3-4 minutes I heard a congregation worship to the top of their lungs! They sang the entire song while Garth stood their playing….alone…with tears on his cheeks. It was beautiful. As my friend Charles says….”its the right worship, just the wrong god.”
The second was the specific realization that this was what I wanted to do in life. Now, I wouldn’t consider myself an “artist” and I’m not exactly “in the industry”, but my work is connecting with people and with God through art and presentation. I was standing in my seat located behind the stage looking down wanting that. Not all of the people watching me, or singing my material, or thinking “how great I am”, but connecting with them. Understanding them through music. Reaching a part of their innermost being with the most beautiful of gifts…..music. It was that night. Sometimes I wish it was at a church or a worship service with more of a spiritual meaning to it…but its not. It was at a Garth Brooks concert, my heart and mind were pricked and I knew what I wanted to go after.
So I’m glad to see he’s coming out of retirement….should be fun!
What are the moments where who and what you are have been changed or influenced?

Stones of Rememberance and Basement Smells

Natural Stone Retaining Block

 I can’t claim this thought at all… I can’t even claim the lesson from this…it was taught to me. Therefore, its just my job to pass it on.

 

In Joshua 4, the children of Israel are crossing the Jordan River (on dry land!), and the Lord tells Joshua to pick 12 men, one from each tribe to gather a stone out of the river to be placed on the other side of the Jordan. In summary, God wants them placed there so that when their sons and daughters ask, “why are these stones here”, they can speak of the work of the Lord on the day He stopped the Jordan so His children could walk across on dry land. This is BIG. God WANTS us to remember the works He does in our lives…and to do that, we need reminders! In the same way that the children of Israel forgot time and time again how God had rescued them from the Egyptians, we for get how God delivers, protects, and provides for us. He wants us to remember, not only as individuals, but as congregations too.

 

 

Many people can remember a time when God moved in their church and did amazing work. And we have a proclivity to want to stay there so that God can do the work again…but that’s not how God works. He didn’t part the Jordan again. He didn’t part the Red Sea again…He moves as we move. We should have stones and altars of remembrance! We should have times where we look back and see what God has done and embrace our heritage. But it can only become our heritage if we move past it. In the chapters that follow (you have to skip over the re-circumcision of Israel), you see that the children of Israel did not stay at the stones of remembrance….they moved on, to conquer Jericho. Likewise we should not forsake our past, but we must move forward while taking moments to look back at what God has done.

 

 

Its like the basement in my parents house. My parents still live in the house I grew up in. Now, whenever my family and my 3 kids go visit them, I walk into the downstairs and am hit with a smell that brings a smile to my face and flashes images of yesteryear in my mind. But….I don’t want to live there again. My wife and I have created our own lives. I love to think of those times in that house, but I’ve moved on. Not to mention, if I lived there again….the smell wouldn’t mean anything.

 

 

So if we never move past our stones of remembrance….they will lose their significance. What Jericho might you not be conquering because you’re too attached to your altar?