Last year Seth Godin posted: “Eleven Things Organizations Can Learn from Airports.” (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2013/01/ten-things-organizations-can-learn-from-airports-.html)
Seth begins by saying: “[Of course, this post isn’t actually about airports].” Many of Seth’s reflections can lead us to ask questions about what we do in adult faith formation:
“The food is aimed squarely at the (disappearing) middle of the market. People who like steamed meat and bags of chips never have a problem finding something to eat at an airport. Apparently, profit-maximizing vendors haven’t realized that we’re all a lot weirder than we used to be.”
In adult faith formation endeavors, are we creating programs for “audiences” that no longer exist? Because we did something fifteen years ago, is it still relevant today?
“The ad hoc is forbidden. Imagine an airplane employee bringing in an extension cord and a power strip to deal with the daily occurrence of travelers hunched in the corner around a single outlet. Impossible. There is a bias toward permanent and improved, not quick and effective.”
Even though planning, guidelines, stability is important, have we become inflexible? Are there new ways of doing things, even spontaneously, that can be tried because they meet the real needs of people?
“Everyone is treated the same. Effective organizations treat different people differently. While there’s some window dressing at the edges (I’m thinking of slightly faster first class lines and slightly more convenient motorized cars for seniors), in general, airports insist that the one size they’ve chosen to offer fit all.”
Do we plan programs and offerings for “everyone,” convinced that one size fits all? Who are the various groups of adults within our congregations? Are we offering things for their unique needs? If we do have a program for everyone, are we utilizing different marketing approaches, geared to the needs of the many groups?
“They are sterile. Everyone who passes through leaves no trace, every morning starts anew. There are no connections between people, either fellow passengers or the staff. No one says, “welcome back,” and that’s honest, because no one feels particularly welcome.”
How do our adult formation offerings create connections between people? What are the many ways we help people experience belonging and welcome?
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