When Did I Stop Noticing The Clanging Radiators?

I was visiting. As I sat there, all I could hear was the hissing and clanging from the radiators. I mean, I was glad they provided heat, but not only was I having trouble hearing people share during the service, but I was distracted out of my mind every time the clicked on.

We were there doing a “Service Evaluation” so we were tuning in to all the details. But here’s the thing:

When we met with the church to report our findings and recommendations, we mentioned the radiators (thinking they would say “yeah, we know and we feel terrible, but it’s too expensive to fix.”) They had NO IDEA WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT.

As my friend Kevin says, “They were nose-blind to their own stink.”

And look, it happens to us all. We get used to all the little uniquenesses of our churches, the building, the people, the culture, the vibe.

Now, I’m not all about “keeping up with the Church-Joneses” or looking hip or being all seeker. God is absolutely using those churches, but that’s not what this is about.

Where I do push hard is in making the Gospel clear, the meeting with God a holy thing, and the keeping of the goofiness that gets in the way to a minimum.

So, with that frame, how can you have a better perspective of what your church is like, both to the long-timer and to the first-timer?
Here’s how I’m going to answer that. Comparing to what growing churches are doing or what the churches in your town are doing is irrelevant.

Completely irrelevant in this case.

So what is relevant?

Comparing YOUR church’s vision and values to what YOU ARE doing and how YOU ARE perceived. In other words, what has God called you to do and be? How have you articulated what’s important to you? If there’s a gap between what you say is important and how you act, there’s an integrity issue.

See how that’s so much more important than whether you’re doing things like everyone else? I want to free you to run with the vision God has given you. And I want to challenge you to stop kidding yourself where you’re missing it.

  • So do you value the presence of God, but your worship teams are unprepared and staring at their music?
  • Do you “practice radical hospitality” but no one gets invited for lunch after church?
  • Do you value prayer but the only prayer that’s prayed in a service is from the front?
  • Do you value excellence by the words are always late on the screens?
  • Do you value discipleship but only have one worship leader?
  • Do you value community but don’t do things for fun as a staff?
  • Do you value training but have no budget for it?


It’s never healthy to say one thing and do another. It takes intentionality to fix that gap. Yes, you can bring us in to do a Service Evaluation. It’s a simple 3-step process: 1. Your leaders fill out an online questionnaire, 2. We observe a service, and 3. We meet with your team to share our observations and recommendations. (click here for more info)


But even if you don’t, take 15 minutes at your next staff meeting to do a side-by-side comparison of your church's vision with what you did last Sunday. It’d be totally worth the time!

- Dave