October 1, 2009 Tony Morgan

Stop Trying to be Fair!

I had lunch with a few of my West Ridge teammates a couple of days ago in a no-name restaurant. It was quite the surreal experience. Everything about the restaurant screamed 1970s…including the waitresses. One of them reprimanded me for trying to pour tea for someone else. (I’ll never do that again.) Oddly enough, they were playing Madonna music over the sound system. Like I said, it was very surreal.

As we were walking out, we noticed this display of business cards:

business cards

There have to be over 50 business cards on that shelf. Everyone is vying for the attention of the restaurant patrons. You can buy a house, get your hair cut and catch a taxi among other things. I guess we could call Sheila’s Beauty Salon to see how effective this advertising is for her business. Looks like she got the prime real estate on the front row.

I guess we can’t fault these businesses for taking advantage of some free advertising. And, honestly, I guess we can’t fault ministries in our churches for doing the same thing. At some point, though, someone in leadership probably needs to ask the question: what’s the priority message?

Here’s the reality though, it’s just easier to say “yes” to everyone. It’s easier to treat everyone the same. Only problem is that when you try to make everyone equal and attempt to treat everyone fairly, you end up with this cluttered display of business cards.

Regrettably, this crowded shelf of business cards is reminiscent of what I see in too many churches. In an attempt to be fair, churches are willing to be less effective.

  • When we promote every ministry equally, nothing gets prioritized.
  • When every ministry is treated the same, it creates confusion for people trying to figure out their next step.
  • When we give everyone the same platform, it’s difficult for any of the messages to be heard.

The only answer to this is for leaders to be unfair. You have to determine your priorities, and give those ministries the focus in your messaging. You have to be willing to say “no” to many requests for platform time and bulletin space and email blasts. You have to keep the important stuff important.

It’s one thing when you’re in a 70s restaurant in northern Georgia and someone is trying to get you to find a new beautician. It’s a completely different deal when you’re trying to help people take their next steps in their spiritual journey. If your objective is to help people become more like Jesus…

Stop trying to be fair.

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Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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