Monday, my wife and I braved the Memorial Day crowds of IKEA to get some much desired furnishing for our recent remodel. In the process of navigating the endless room sets and wall to wall people, I begin to look at IKEA through to eyes of a church planter and pastor asking myself what the church could learn from IKEA. Here’s what I came up with.
- Make Kids a Priority: I’m sure my wife and aren’t alone with our lack of a desire to take our kids furniture shopping. In addition to getting bored quickly I’m always worried my 2-year old son could pull down his pants at anytime and pee on something. IKEA seems to be aware of this parental anxiety and provides a massive activity area for kids to enjoy themselves under supervision while their parents shop. It’s right at the front of the store and super attractive! Most kids would get as bored during a sermon as they would furniture shopping but when the church provides an excellent, age appropriate space for kids, everyone wins!
- Keep it Clean: IKEA was insanely packed Monday but every area of the building, including the bathrooms, were clean! I saw multiple team members waking around the store sweeping up trash and keeping neat. If a store that regularly accommodates thousands in 12hr. days can keep things clean, a church has no excuse not to do the same. Cleanliness is clearly a priority at IKEA and it should be the same in our churches because it sets a good tone.
- Clearly Identify Your Team: Every IKEA team member has a bright yellow shirt. There’s no doubt about who to ask when you need help and this is a huge benefit in such a massive, often congested space. I’m amazed at how much we miss this in church land and our church is guilty of it as well. It’s not hard to let people know who can help them and it goes a long way in easing any possible anxiety they might experience.
- Keep a Complicated Process Simple: IKEA is massive and it’s unlike any other furniture store when it comes to getting your desired product. It’s 2 stories high and features a warehouse of over 30 aisles where you are responsible for pulling your own product. I’m sure this has seemed daunting and comlicated to more than 1 guest but they make it as simple as possible by communicating how it works in 3 easy steps. Computer kiosks and the yellow shirt folks make it simple too. Likewise, the process of getting connected at a church can seem daunting and complicated but simplifying the process will go a long way in helping guests grow and connect.
- SMILE: It was busy enough, loud enough and crazy enough at IKEA yesterday to wipe the smile off even the happiest persons face. Despite the conditions, I didn’t see one team member bumming around. Everyone seemed happy to be there and it was amazing how the attitude of the employees seemed to brighten the attitude of the shoppers. Not to dIminish the role of an IKEA employee but they are selling furniture while the church is offering the hope, love and liberation of Jesus! We should smile more than anyone elese on the planet! Period.