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Last week I mentioned a story about the founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy. The leadership of Chick-fil-A was scrambling to fend off new competition with ideas about how to get bigger. That’s when Cathy said, “If we get better, our customers will demand we get bigger.”

The church is always coping with the anxiety of getting bigger. It seems to be the default solution to every problem. There are two reasons I think it is wise to give attention to what we can do better, instead of focusing on getting bigger. Focusing on getting better is in our control (getting bigger isn’t). Getting better makes us ready for getting bigger.

So what can we do to get better? I would like to submit 7 ways:

1. Build Better Worshipers.

We can get better at magnifying God. Put the spotlight on his amazing attributes in every creative way imaginable. Fill every sense with his immanence and expand the fascination of his transcendence.

2. Be Better Citizens.

Get to know your city better. Do some research. What are the cultural markers, makers, and make-up in your city? What are the resources in your city? What are the needs of your city? Be a better giver to your city.

3. Be Better Listeners.

Hear what people are saying with the intent to understand, not just the intent to reply. Listening is linked to evaluation. Someone has said anything worth doing is worth evaluating. What needs to be put in place to hear what people think. Then take the time to find out why they think what they think.

4. Develop Better Communication.

How are things communicated among the congregation and to the community? Who and what are the “voices” of the church? Who is allowed to get the attention of people on behalf of the church? Who is doing a good job with communication already? What poor communication is happening?

5. Initiate Better Contact.

Do you have a problem getting a person’s contact information from the communication cards put in the bulletin? That’s because no one fills them out! Deal with it. You have to actually talk to the person and ask for their mobile number or email address or other contact info.

6. Initiate Better Follow-up.

When you follow-up, don’t try to sell them on the church or invite them back. That’s obvious and redundant. Tell them it was nice meeting them and you hope it was a meaningful time. That’s it.

7. Be Better Students.

My kids need constant encouragement with school. They lose motivation to do homework, they procrastinate on tests and projects, and they forget why studying is important (namely, so I won¹t have to feed and clothe them the rest of their life).

We need the same encouragement as disciples, students of Jesus. Recently, my pastor, Bill Calvin, mentioned in his sermon a study device he called A, E, I, O, U, and sometimes Y. Each letter is a prompt that can be followed while reading a verse or chapter. One or all of these can be used: read it [a]loud, [e]mphasize each word, put it [i]n your own words, think of [o]ther scripture it connects to, how does it apply to yo[u], and wh[y] is this here. Your church could come up with dozens of creative prompts like this and dozens of ways to communicate them. We need all the help we can to be better students.

Remember, this is about getting better, not being the best. Often we never make a start, because we know we’re not going to be perfect. Something is better, than nothing. Moving the needle just a little in an area, is better than doing nothing. So as you read through this list, take the one thing that you said to yourself, “I could do that,” and start there.

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