ya burnt!

When you head to church, it’s no fun to get burned.

I’ve noted my bummed-ness over incorrect ministry information before; while it doesn’t happen too much of the time, I get bad info just enough to keep me a little nervous. When it happens twice in one day, I figure it’s a good example to get us thinkin’ about doing this better.

Memorial Day Eve (yesterday) was my last day in Ohio. I was in Cincinnati yesterday morning and made it successfully to 3 church services. The plan was to drive into Illinois on my way out of Ohio, visit the University of Illinois, and attend church once more, in my never-ending quest to attend a billion services this year, maximizing my experience of Christianity all over the country.

So, I searched the Net and located an evening service in a certain city, right on my way.

But I never made it to church that night.

Or, better stated, church never made it to me.

I do recognize that churches often “take off” for certain services during holiday weekends. But the web said 6pm…

Church 1\'s web info

See? That’s from the web page. Fortunately, this church puts service times right on the front page (I happen to love that).

Unfortunately, the info was wrong. There was no service that night. I guess the empty parking lot at this huge church is what first tipped me off. I double-checked the web. I sighed. Ya burnt!

I had found one other local church with an evening service – but it was a good 15 minutes away. I’d be late… but… I’m going for a billion here, right? Of course, I double-checked that church’s site, as well, looking for anything that might indicate they were taking the night off. Instead, only this, on the front page:

Church 2\'s web info

So off I went, putting my GPS and driving skills to the test. I drove into the lot only about 9 minutes past service-start. And the best news? There were cars! There weren’t a bunch of cars, but I figured, hey, it’s Memorial Day Weekend.

Within about 90 seconds, though, after finding no greeters inside, a rather dark foyer, and – finally – a locked auditorium door, I realized I had once again been stymied. Ya burnt!

Something was a little curious, however. Here’s the sign at the church entrance (edited to remove identifying info):

Church 2\'s sign

So… does this church never have a 6pm service? Or have they just started a 6pm, and it was on “hiatus” for Mem Day? I figure a permanent sign is harder to change than a web page, so maybe they’ll get to it soon. But I also know web pages may in fact be slower to change than even permanent signs. That’s no good, but it’s true!

I’m certainly not trying to be grumpy about this! Yet this trip has certainly deepened my concern for our ministries’ service to visitors.

In some cases, errors won’t affect anybody. In others, only a few might be messed up by our wrong info. Most affected by bad info won’t have driven several hours from another state to visit our ministry. But one might have.

In any case, I think exactitude is one way we serve our members and our visitors. We can be extra-diligent, and we can make certain to run through an “informing the public checklist” whenever there’s a major change to our schedule, whether it’s one-time or permanent.

‘Cause when they visit a church, nobody wants to hear, “Ya burnt!”

Written from the Motel 6 right by the Mall of America, Twin Cities

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