Friday, May 07, 2004

It's a Messed Up World
Some days I just can't help realize how #$%^ed up this planet really is.

1) Some of our soldiers are caught abusing prisoners, exposing a shameful side to who we are as a people (regardless of one's political opinons about the war). It seems instantly it is turned into a bi-partisan political issue. And, the 11 o'clock news anchors, while gasping over how atrocious it is, still manage to show the images five nights in a row because there's ratings to be had (ie money to be made) by showing them.

2) Consumerism has ruined our culture. Whether I'm trying to get a phone line installed, get medical care, or just purchase a car wash, I'm repeatedly confronted with the fact that most people don't care about me (or the others they are helping) at all, they are just doing the minimum they can to get by and make a paycheck.

3) One of my professors, while often hinting at the fact that he is an evangelical Christian, has continually taken advantage of his position to treat students poorly, and did so again today (apparently intentionally) by sending an e-mail postponing a review session at a time that made it impossible for anyone to read the e-mail before they left home to drive to the review session.

Enough of my complaining. But the older I get, the more I realize that things on this planet aint right -- something's broken. I am blessed to live in a community of people who usually provide an excpetion to this brokenness.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Great Clips & Church Planting
Shortly after moving into our new house in SW Vegas, I ventured to the brand new Great Clips in a nearby shopping center to get my hair buzzed. I figured it would be like all the other lame chain hair cutting places in town.

But it was different because they were having a "grand opening." First, they had a banner advertising "Haircuts $4.99." I coudn't believe my eyes. Then, they actually had people working at almost every chair, like 6 people working at once! No waiting in line! I was digging it. Then, the guy who cut my hair actually knew something about hair. He gave me the cut I asked for but also gave me tips on how to make my hair look better each day (I'm still straight, but I have to admit, this was exciting -- I was getting customer service from my hair cutter).

I was in and out in fifteen minutes, my hair looked better than usual, and it only cost me $4.99! I left actually excited about my hair for the first time in . . ., well, the first time ever. I was so excited that I told Rebekah and she actually went there too.

Today, it was time for another haircut. I was excited to make my follow-up visit to my new-found Great Clips. What a let down.

My "stylist" wasn't there. In fact, the six professionals who were there for grand opening had been replaced by two people who looked like they just got out of haircutting school. They were nervous and unsure of themselves. One worker was fighting with the computer to get it to accept a credit card as I walked in. The $4.99 haircut banner was nowhere in sight. Instead, the permanent sign had been installed that showed the cheapest haircut being $12.00. While the lady was cutting my hair, her clippers quit working and she had to struggle to get them to operate long enough to finish up. Another customer walked in, found out the $4.99 deal was off, and stormed out furious.

I left with an average haircut that cost me $12.00, no customer service to speak of, and no excitement left about hair or haircuts.

I couldn't help but think that the way I learned to do church planting is exactly the way the Great Clips apparently opens a store (and I have a feeling the church copied the idea from business, not the other way around). I was taught that you get a huge crowd for a great grand opening, that you bring in whomever necessary to pull it off, that you use whatever gimick necessary to attract people, that you get them to leave excited about God and church. Today I found out how those people must feel when they come back a month or so later to a sub-par program, to pleas for money, and to an average performance.

Thanks to Great Clips, I'm more committed than ever to experiencing church as a family, not as a franchise. And, I think maybe it's time to buy a set of hair clippers.