What Happens When More Is Less?

I love that everyday I get to wake up and work in my passion of helping leaders navigate growth challenges with visionclarity. Not only is it fulfilling, but it is fun to see churches and organizations break patterns of decline and stagnation, as well as solutioneer barriers into opportunities. My work also requires that I travel quite a bit, and I enjoy finding new places to eat when I am on the road.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a great group of church leaders in Central Pennsylvania, and I found a burger joint near the Pittsburgh airport called Burgatory. Not only was the logo compelling, but the idea of a high-concept burger joint was immediately intriguing. They had just opened and the place was packed, but my co-worker and I braved the wait, choosing experience over expedience.

While flirting dangerously close to the sacrilege, the interior of Burgatory was a outstanding conglomeration of Beef-related 10 Commandment Artwork Puns, an entire wall dedicated to a burger-ordering decision flow and overall creative use of materials and lighting. And it was fun… until it came time to actually order a burger.

Jeff and I were immediately confronted with a full page of burger options, each named with the same creative ethos as the interior, a looming check-box and a variable pricing option. I am ashamed to say that I locked up… too many choices and too little explanation forced me to the path of least resistance, a regular old BBQ burger, and I know that I missed a true culinary adventure. I believe I experienced an often overlooked fact of human nature: the more choices we have to make, the fewer decisions we actually end up making. It’s called Analysis Paralysis.

Imagine being a first time guest at a church and receiving a bulletin as you walk through the worship center doors. After an experience in which you were moved or challenged, you turn to find your next step among an onslaught of activities, programs and events listed on the back page of that bulletin. What’s worse is that the stage announcements do not help much either, lots of opportunities abound, but no clear pathway to follow emerges.

If you are like most human guests, you will experience Analysis Paralysis and choose the path of least resistance… do nothing, or worse yet walk away thinking that you do not have the time to be a part of all this church has to offer. As church leaders, we tend to think that offering more choices will lead to a better church experience. As guests, they tend to think that we expect them to experience everything. And unless we tell them otherwise, we do.

A survey of church members and attenders would most likely reveal that they are likely stalled in their growth because of too many programatic options or too little pathway illumination. Most churches either offer a full page of activities that yield little growth or they offer too little direction on what the most important steps are to develop as a Christian.

Here are 3 strategies to overcoming Analysis Paralysis in your church:

  • Prioritize Process over Programs – establish a vision framework that defines the WHY and the WHEN of the mission. Motivators and success markers can serve to focus activities that accomplish the Great Commission.
  • Create A Memorable Map – a logical and visual progression of assimilation can serve to point everyone to the process of growing as a follower of Christ. Language that is sticky, not cutesy, serves to keep growth prevalent over activity.
  • Consistently Call to Growth – remember that just about the time you are tired of repeating the same “Next Steps” language, the congregation is just then actually hearing it. Repetition serves to reveal and reinforce what’s truly important.

So next time you fly into Pittsburgh, experience Burgatory, and if you are a church leader, take some time to evaluate how you will see people grow in Christ and live the Great Commission. To learn more about creating an effective Vision Frame for your church or organization, shoot me an email and we will start a conversation.


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