3 Things Tiffany's and an Old Truck Can Teach the Church

3 Things Tiffany’s and an Old Truck Can Teach the Church
On Monday night I went to a going away party for a former co-worker.  Bridget was an invaluable asset to the organization for 17 years and we all pitched in to get her a special gift.  As she unwrapped her present, nearly everyone in the room started oohing and ahhing at the sight of the box.  It was a beautiful aqua color.  The distinctive color signaled something special and a number of people knew what it meant: Tiffany’s. 

Now I must say, that I was not one of the oohers.  Having never seen a Tiffany box, whenever I see an aqua-colored something, I immediately think of my old youth director’s beat up truck (if nothing else, I am classy).  That truck took us everywhere – to the mountains, to the beach, and all places in between.  Yep, all piled in the open cab not a
seatbelt or helmet in sight, flying down the southern California freeways…freedom!   Holy smokes – what were my parents thinking, letting me go anywhere in that thing?

But in any event - the truck to me was magical, just like the Tiffany box.  The church can learn three things from Tiffany’s (and Dick Swinney’s truck too):
1.  Visually can you evoke expectation? By seeing an aqua box with the Tiffany logo on it, you know you can expect something wonderful, something extra special.  When I saw Dick Swinney’s truck, I knew an adventure awaited me.  How does the outside of your church let people know that something special awaits them inside?
2.  Does the experience meet the expectation?  You can have the most beautiful exterior, but if the interior experience is a bomb or a bore, who cares?  Once the Tiffany box is open, you know something of quality awaits – and rarely does it disappoint.  Just like my youth group trips – always fun, always memorable.  What happens when people actually get through your doors?  An unforgettable church experience does not necessarily mean knocking one's socks off – though occasionally that would be nice – but it does mean giving the opportunity for someone to think deeply, to have an encounter with the holy, and to experience the power of a changed life.
3.  Is the expectation met on a consistent basis?  Just seeing Dick Swinney’s truck in front of the church, I always knew I was in for a fun and spiritually enriching two hours.  And Tiffany’s didn’t get where they are because they were satisfied with being “OK.”  Tiffany’s wants to be known for top-quality merchandise and customer satisfaction 100% of the time.  Yes, it’s true – members of our congregations are not “customers” in a traditional business sense but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t follow the adage – “Treat your family like company and your company like family.”  Why shouldn’t our congregations expect greatness on a regular basis?
What if your congregation made the effort to give everyone a “Tiffany Experience”?  What would happen if everyone saw your church and knew (just like when I would see Dick’s old truck) that something exciting was happening there?  From what happens before they walk into your building, to what happens once they enter, to their experience when they come back again and again…what occurs outside and inside makes a difference.  So this week, give a Tiffany Experience – do one thing that will make someone say – “ooh, ahh.”
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  She is still waiting to receive the elusive aqua box. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.