Recently a story appeared in New.com how Ikea in China has worked a small miracle and this article tells us how it was done. In short, it consisted of three mantras and I wonder how these might be taken up by Australian Churches.
In short, the mantras was a recognition of a changing Chinese market place when the economy got tough, the Ikea furniture sales business took off as it was much cheaper to put something together with an Allen key than to go buy.
The next mantra was to allow people to come and try the furniture. So they did. In their droves. So much so that many took a nap. More than that, got into the covers of the beds with the children. And Ikea grew accustomed to this as part of their sales pitch.
The consequences of this benevolence on behalf of Ikea is that word got around that not only was the company generous, but the quality was terrific, the testing process was well and truly on par with anything professional and China Ikea has not looked back.
This gave rise to ponder how might such a successful business strategy right out of left field might have some parallels in Australian churches.
Imagine if even a few Australian churches strategically located in both cities and major suburbs, regional and rural centres, came to a philosophical position and said something along the lines of – we'll put $20,000 aside for any repairs and maintenance issues and this is what we'll do -
- Open the church doors wide
- Let it be known viz a place to sleep
- Set it up with blankets and pillows in the pews
- Have special rooms set aside for beds
- Ensure the kitchen is user friendly
- Provide towels for the showers
Shock of shocks, horror of horrors, a place of worship, the sanctuary, being used for sanctuary seekers.
How might the righteous react and what would the holier than thou say to such an ancient and godly act of welfare and passion.
The sky could fall in. More over, the church ceiling and roof might collapse. The cleaning might need to be done a bit more often. The kitchen and bathrooms would need to be cleaned regularly. Perhaps the neighbours might get a bit cross with issues of noise. And what about fights.
But on the other hand those in genuine need might start to help fill up congregational functions and even dread the thought, even church services, even those services as seen by many as 'dull and boring'.
People might start to listen. The clothing bins might actually get some appropriate use, the stayed and do-nothing congregations might get excited and jump on the bandwagon of service with enthusiasm.
The young people using the church as a bed sit might actually want to participate in the youth program and listen in to the most wonderful message the world has on offer. Jesus ' Salvation.
What about refugees. There's that word popping up. There might be something constructive on offer.
I can think of many more options and ideas should churches actually follow the China Ikea idea.
A closed door (literally) being opened
A whole new clientele
Well, it's a thought !
It only takes one thought !
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html