"What do you want for Christmas?" the young husband asked his wife.
"A gold plated watch," she replied. "Please don't buy the silver. I don't like silver jewelry."
Christmas day came, and they handed each other a package. The wife excitedly opened her gift and inside was a watch! Suddenly, the wife's face fell and her eyes filled with tears.
"What's wrong?" her husband asked. "I thought this is what you wanted! You told me you wanted a watch. I bought a watch!"
"I asked for gold plated!" she said. "I explained that I don't like silver. You bought me a silver watch."
The husband got defensive. "It's a beautiful watch. I can't BELIEVE you aren't happy with this watch. The salesperson said this was the latest style. She said you would love it."
In our churches, we plan programs and services that we THINK will meet the needs of the community. We expect people to attend and appreciate all that we do. Then we get upset when the community doesn't bust down the doors.
Like the newlywed husband, we are giving a "gift" that we feel should be good enough.
Yet, we can't forget the wife. She explained what she wanted. She said why she didn't want the silver watch. Still, her husband did what he wanted.
Do we ask those in our communities what they want, what they need? Do we listen carefully for what will make a difference in their lives? And then, only then, do we put together programs and worship experiences that meet those needs?
To survive, we must revive our servant ways. We need to begin conversations with school officials, police, local business owners and more! How can we serve them? How can we meet their needs? It begins by genuinely listening to the voices in our communities.
Our churches can no longer only be about our needs and the ways we have always done things. If we are to make a difference, we must be DIFFERENT.