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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Full serve

I was so pleased to find a full service station on my way into London Sunday. A nice young man was willing to stand out there in the cold and put gas in my car. He popped the hood and topped up the windshield washer that had been pumped dry washing off an hour’s worth of highway splash. While I sat inside my warm car listening to my radio.

Full service stations are going the way of the dodo. Two such stations within a couple of blocks of my office have closed completely—gone! I’m guessing they can’t compete with the self serve places. Everybody out of the car; pump it yourself!

I had a friend who always left his tray and the dregs of his McDonald's meal, despite the handy bins and clear expectation that diners clear their own tables. “I’m saving some kid’s job,” he explained. “As long as there are jerks like me who won’t ‘do it yourself’ they’ve gotta keep somebody employed to clean up after me.” I’m always conflicted if I eat in fast food places. One good reason I’m more likely to choose the sit-down full serve place myself.

Have you bumped up against this clash of desire for full service in a culture of self serve? We like discount store low prices but are annoyed by messy shelves, clothes on the floor, nobody to ask when you need help. We’re frustrated by enormous unwieldy plastic packaging on our electronics or cosmetics, forgetting it’s been developed primarily to deter shoplifting in an understaffed store.

So I’m thinking this impacts somewhat on our church, or our congregational life. Is that a place where we’d really like a full serve establishment but forget we’ve chosen to ‘shop’ at a self serve denomination? Are we asking for a complete range of programming options but don’t have time to be on the planning committee? Maybe don’t even have time to register for events, but would like to know they’re there in case we have a free evening or weekend or whatever?

“Communication” is always a hot topic. Ask anyone and they’ll wish for better communication. “Someone” should be doing a better job. With all the technology available, couldn’t we have a classy website, a top-notch newsletter (available electronically or hard copy), regular reminders and telephone (Twitter?) chains keeping us apprised of prayer needs and skating parties at the rink in the pastor’s yard! But who is that someone, or ones who will volunteer the hours or contribute the dollars to pay for these services?

I could go on with lots of illustrations, but it would be difficult to keep them anonymous enough to ‘protect the innocent.’

I had a great conversation recently with a willing volunteer for a certain commission that shall remain nameless. We were grappling with some of these very questions and coming to a conclusion that it is essential to clearly define their responsibility, to have a precise understanding of what they can and cannot do. These folks are willing to serve! But they also have lives, so they can’t be full-serve! But they can tell you where to put your garbage and give you a really great product at a good price, if you’re willing to serve yourself along the way, hopefully with a smile.

Please don’t share your complaints. Skip right to any solutions that are working for you and share them.

Posted by Marion


  1. I worked with a man about five years ago who had never used a bank machine. Ever. He had the card, he just didn't care to use it.

    And it wasn't that he wasn't capable of using it. He was adept at learning all sorts of new technologies. He just didn't ever want to lose the personal connection with the people who work at the wicket.

  2. fantastic blog post Marion! i don't even know where to start on what jumped out at me the most!



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