The world around us, as never before, is based on information. Collecting and analyzing data is a major industry. Almost every news organization invests heavily in surveys and polls to find out “what everyone thinks” about local, national, and world events that are happening all around us. Corporations want to know what you think about every detail of each of their products or services. Political parties and special interest groups want to know what you think about their candidates or their perceived current hot issues. Entertainment media want to know what you think about their latest movie, television program, or stars. Online organizations want to know what web sites you visit and what items on those sites you pursue so that they can customize their marketing on other sites to you specifically. What would our world be like today without having all of this information collected? And is collecting data and tallying opinions a bad thing or can it be useful for good?
What if, at least once a month, you put a survey into the hands of your church attendees and asked them to express their honest opinion about your church, the services, and even the content of your sermons? I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’m not that secure.
Let’s consider a few sample questions to include in your survey: Were you greeted and made to feel welcome when you arrived? Did the music point you to the preached Word, or was it simply one song after another? Did the message have relevance to today’s world? Did it apply to you? Were your children well cared for? Was the Lord’s house honored with neatness and order? Did you feel the church service was performance-oriented or Christ-centered? And the big questions: Will you return? Would you invite someone else to attend with you?
I know churches are not airplanes or restaurants or hardware stores, but, sometimes, it is good to know how your people are feeling. Don’t you agree? If you’re not brave enough to survey your church, please consider more informal ways to find out how people — both congregants and visitors — feel about how things are going. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
This kind of information can be extremely helpful to you and your other leaders. So much of what you do is filtered through the judgment of your peers and the perceptions of others. There are times when we in the ministry feel like we have to do a lot of “spin” to keep everyone happy. But do we really? If we are honest, faithful, diligent, prepared, and in close contact with the One who matters most, then the audience that really counts is that audience of ONE!
I wish we could be more secure in that knowledge. Several times every week, you are called upon to step up to the plate and knock the ball out of the park — to produce, to win, to satisfy the crowds — just as a professional athlete would do. To most who observe you, it looks easier than it really is. Folks seldom consider how you’re feeling, what’s going on at home, or your own personal battles. They just expect you to produce, and most of the time you do.
But it’s not really about producing or pleasing others. We do what we do because we love our Lord and are grateful for the confidence He has placed in us. In fact, without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). So, hang in there! Ultimately, only one voter matters — the One who called us and for whom we do all we do.
I know it is a foreign concept to a lot of us because conventional wisdom says the reverse. Don’t we have to consider who pays us? How do they expect to be served? What if they become dissatisfied with us? What about the security of our families? Hmm.
Be honest. When you do what you do, why do you do it, and for whom do you do it? It’s hard, but remember, in the end, only One voter counts! “For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything” (Hebrews 3:4). The audience of One. Stop right now and try to get your arms around that.
Okay. Now, since He is our audience, doesn’t He deserve our best? We know when we have done our best — even when the results do not appear to be there. And then there are those times when we just sit back in amazement at how God has worked through our feeble efforts. In other words, we must keep our successes and our failures in perspective, especially if we do everything to His glory and honor.
All of us prepare, plan, and pray for our activities. Sometimes they are successful, but other times, the results are not so great. Do you think for one moment that God looks upon you, His child, and analyzes you as someone who has performed better or worse than others? Of course not. Performance is not the issue. He is thrilled with the successes of His children. And He offers comfort to those who struggle. The issue that concerns Him is the heart … your heart.
So, it doesn’t matter if you won or lost this past weekend or during this week. Hold your head up high. Remember Whose team you are on and for Whom you do what you do. It’s all about perspective. If you have planned, prepared, and prayed … God’s church will triumph. He is the audience, and He brings the victories.
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).