St. Peter's Blog 'Customer Service' from St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church – North Wales, PA's Blog

Customer Service

Sunday, Sep 7, 2014
Author: Pastor Andreas Wagner

I enter truly dangerous territory when I, a pastor, approach my work from a customer service perspective. Many of my colleagues and Christian lay leaders would protest and say: "NO! You can't look at church like that! Church people are not customers who come to be served but disciples who are called to serve others." It's the Christian version of the famous JFK appeal, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but..."

Nevertheless, as an ordained leader of the church and a professional, I cannot help but looking at the ministry to which I was called also from a customer service perspective. "What do people need?" "What are they looking for?" "How can I help them?" "How can I/we satisfy their needs?" Dangerous territory indeed! Can we ever satisfy people's needs? All right, that's where God has to come into play in my line of work but not before we have given that customer service approach some serious consideration.  

How that translates into ministry? Let us take Sunday morning for example. Worship is one of those areas of church life that I actually have a great deal of control over. Here are my professional standards for a "good" worship service: It has to be inspiring on some level; it should not be boring or repetitive; a sprinkle of humor often helps; it should be relevant for the 21st century; I would want to touch a few people in a personal way; it should be truthful to the Word of God but also to the preacher's own doubts and questions; cliches and stereotypes are strictly to be avoided. It should not be too "churchy" or "preachy" as to be predictable. And this is just the beginning of my professional bucket list when preparing for a service.

So are you, the customer, king in church? Well no, that place belongs to someone else that we commonly call GOD. But I would say this: I pay as much attention to the needs of people as to the integrity of the sacred tradition we invoke. I often put myself in your shoes. I wouldn't want to sit in the pews and have to listen to a long and boring monologue. So I try very hard to meet modern standards of oratory. I would almost go as far as to say: if you're bored, uninspired or left cold by worship on Sunday morning you will get your money back! (hey, that is only if you put something in...) But well, that goes probably a little bit too far. Because there is that slight possibility that you may be uninspired because your heart has become cold, because of human sin or indifference. Yes, there is that possibility. No religious customer service in the world can fix that without your help and the help of God. Think about it!

May your heart will be satisfied! May God bless you!

Pastor Andreas Wagner           

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