The Smelly Cow

Every once in a while I have the privilege to lead all day meetings at Elim Gospel Church where I serve as Executive Pastor. After a couple hours of intense discussions we’ll take a break. Everyone will stand up, leave the room, go to the bathroom, get a new cup of coffee, etc. Ten minutes later, I’ll walk back in the room and be inundated with an odor I hadn’t noticed before. Ugh. We’ll all notice it. The windows get opened and we valiantly attempt to air it out. All those bodies stuffed into that room add up to some serious BO. Here’s the deal. Most of us didn’t notice it until we left and came back.

Two days ago I told you my sad story about a cow I cared about and then had to kill. I also suggested that some of our churches have cows as well. They are most often referred to and known as sacred cows.
Their not. They are only treated like sacred cows. They are really smelly cows. You know what it’s like to get used to a smell. You’ve been in numerous situations where the odor is mildly unbearable for most people – but surprisingly not to you.
By now you’re wondering what in the world my point is. Simply this. The ‘cows’ in your church aren’t very obvious to you and your members. They may be staring you in the face. You just might be gently patting one on the back while reading this article.

However, sacred cows are usually quite obvious to your guests. Ouch. Is it possible that’s one of the reason some of them don’t come back?

Do you have any sacred cows at your church? Not sure? I have a suggestion for you. Try sniffing them out. Here are a few ideas on how to get started…
  • Draft a few questions that are designed specifically to sniff out sacred (smelly) cows. Here are a couple to consider: 
    Was there anything that made you feel uncomfortable when you first arrived at our church? Was there anything about the Sunday service that was confusing to you or that didn’t seem to have a real point that you could tell? Is there anything anyone did or said that made you feel like an outsider? Is there anything about the facility that seems out of place? What can you think of about this church that has always been confusing to you? If you have attended other churches before, what would you say is really different compared to your other church experiences – good or bad?
  • Ask key people who might have some measure of authority to answer these questions. This could include:
    Any new members of your church within the past year. First time guests within the past 2 months (give them a call). First time guests each Sunday (make a feedback card or form). Guest speakers who have spoken in the past year. Trusted family members of attendees who visited from out of town.
  • Select four people who you trust know how to think critically to spend two weeks asking the question, “why?” to anything and everything. 
    I recommend you give them a notebook and have them journal all of their ‘why’ questions in the notebook. I also suggest they not share their ‘why’ questions with you or anyone else until the two weeks are over. Anytime they have a ‘why’ question that they can’t reasonably answer themselves, have them highlight them for further consideration after the two weeks are over.
  • Hire a mystery guest to come to your church. 
    Check out my post about mystery guests right here. 
If you find some cows, I’d love it if you’d let me know.

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