The Power of Wow!


Barry Posner did some research that revealed an interesting result of quality. People were 6 times as likely to talk about a business that they considered a 5 on a scale of one to 5 than they were to talk about businesses they rate as a 4. This is the power of wow!

There is a reason Jesus taught us to shock people with above and beyond, "second mile" service. It is in the second mile that we get people's attention. It is in the second mile that people pay attention. It is in the second mile that people ask, "What does this guy have that I don't?" All the results come in the second mile. This is where people say, "Wow!"

I worked as an assistant manager for a while at a Wendy's. One of my favorite moments was when a cranky customer came to complain that we had not prepared her hamburger just so. We were trained to handle this in a very particular and dramatic fashion. We would apologize politely for the mistake, whether or not it was our fault. Then, we would take the hamburger that was prepared wrong and lift it above a trash can. In plain view of the customer, would drop it ceremoniously into the trash can. Without saying a word, we would grab a fresh bun, hold it in our left hand, look the customer in the eye and say, "Tell me how I can prepare this hamburger for your satisfaction." In shocked disbelief they would stutter out their order. Often they would try to stop us from throwing it away. "No. . . no. . . no. . . I only needed you to add pickles." "Plop." They would insist that it was their fault. No matter. We wanted to get their attention. We wanted to watch their mouth open as we dropped the hamburger into the trash in front of them. We wanted to impress on them that we were serious about customer service. We wanted to make a story they could go and tell their friends about. We wanted them to say, "Wow!"

The interesting thing about this approach is how calculated it was to the customer's response. You see, what I was taught to do at Wendy's is not so different than what many restaurants, stores and fast food places do. Many products and services routinely come with a money back guarantee. Whether it is stated or not, if you bring a hamburger back at McDonalds or Joe Bob's Grill they will generally take it back and fix you what they want. The difference is in the way we did it. Normally they take it to the back room and you, the customer, never really knows what happens. Do they salvage all they can and give you back the same meat but with a new bun? Do they just pull off the pickles and hope you won't notice the pickle juice? Do they take your sandwich and serve it to someone else? Do they put the preparation of your hamburger in line behind everyone else's order? What happens in that magic transforming back room? No one knows. What we did was remove all doubt.

We wanted to leave nothing to the imagination. We wanted to send a strong message to our customers that we were really sorry we had messed up their order. We wanted to visibly display to them that the were far more important to us than anything we might salvage from their sandwich in the back room. We wanted them to know that we were going to stop everything to get their order right. We were going to do it now, for all the world to see. We wanted them to say, "Wow, these people made a mistake, but they sure went the second mile to get it fixed. Wow!"

Churches ought to adopt the goal of causing people to say, "Wow!" We ought to do our advertising, our outreach, our preaching, our music, our childcare, our everything to make them say, "Wow!" The goal of Christian ministry is nothing less than to drop open jaws and hear people say, "Wow!" That is how Jesus ministered. When people saw Jesus, they said, "Wow!"

Glory is about saying "Wow!" When something was glorious, you would just look at it in stunned disbelief and say, "Wow!" "Little Kittel" defines glory as, "that which makes God impressive.(2) When churches accurately display the glory of God, they make God impressive. They show his glory. They cause people to say, "Wow!" Too many churches make people yawn.

Churches that cause people to say "Wow!" don't have attendance problems. They have parking problems, space problems, administrative growth problems and all kinds of other problems. But they do not have attendance problems. If you aspire to double your church every five years or less, it is not enough to be a pretty good church. We must make people's jaws drop to the floor. We must cause them to say, "Wow!" When was the last time someone walked out of your church and said, "Wow! I had no idea church could be that way. I had no idea church music could be like that. The people, were so, well, just different. Wow!"

Not "Wow!" at us. Of course not. "Wow! Isn't God incredible! This is all far different than I imagined!"

WOW! Pastoral Care

In seminary they taught us how to do weddings and funerals. We learned how to do hospital visitation and help people through crises situations. We learned our lessons well. What they did not tell us is that people will hardly ever remember what is said at a wedding or a funeral. At the risk of offending the pastors who are reading, let me break it to you: you and I who officiate at weddings are not the most important thing going on. We are not the picture. I am not even sure we are the frame. We are not supporting actors. We are more like the extras--the thousands of locals the movie producers hire to create a crowd effect. Nobody ever remembers funeral or wedding messages. So when they come up to you and say, "Oh pastor, that was perfect." don't believe it. Smile and say thank you, but don't start thinking that you did anything really extraordinary

There is something, however, really extraordinary you can do in helping people through pivot points in life. It isn't difficult or time consuming, but it will mean the world to people. It will cause them to say "Wow!" these people really care around here. This simple practice, if effectively executed, will mean more to people than anything else you do as pastor. Over time, your people will develop an irresistible love and gratitude toward you. They will follow you anywhere because you have loved them well. You have "taken care of my lambs," and been obedient to Jesus' teaching in John 21. Here is how it works.

As soon as the funeral or wedding is over, plan out your follow up strategy. This is where the battle will be won. You may want to do this on your own calendar, or have your secretary keep up with it for you, or use a computer to remind you. In one ten minute session, plan out a dozen ways to remind the family that you care.

Here is an example. Suppose you do a funeral on Friday, November 26th. A 58 year old man named Bob died suddenly of a heart attack leaving a widow, Jean, and three children. They had been married 32 years. When you get back to the office, write down the following dates:

December 15: write a note acknowledging that you are understand the Christmas season may be hard with out Bob.

February 10: write a note acknowledging this is the first Valentines day in 32 years Jean has not had a date. You know it is hard. You are sorry. You are thinking of her. You are praying for her. If you want to go the extra mile, send one long stem rose. Sign the card with your wife in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

June 15: Write a letter to each of the children acknowledging their grief in Father's day without dad.

August 22: Bob's birthday. This day will come and go with a great cloud over it. To everyone else, it is just another day. Jean will be touched that you remembered.

September 15: "Jean and Bob's anniversary. Thirty three years ago she slept with Bob for the first time. Tonight, she crawls in bed alone. She is so alone. The letter she got from her pastor made her day." Wow! It is sure good to have people who care.

November 20: Write a note acknowledging the anniversary of Bob's death.

The following year you may write half as many cards and then decrease from there.

If you serve anything other than a very small church, keeping up with all these contacts will become daunting. I have some good news. The bigger the church, the more money you have to pay secretaries and support staff. Turn your secretary loose. Ask her to be creative and be an extension of you in showing care to the congregation.

Modern contact management software that salesmen use can be adapted to track this kind of thing. In ten minutes you can mark each date you want to be reminded to do something, along with a note describing what you need to do. If you turn on your computer every day it will keep you on top of these things.

Buy your cards in bulk, but don't buy cheap cards. Purchase some cards that look like you picked them out just for this person. Again, let your secretary help you.

Variety is the key. Send a card this month, call next. Send a flower next month and a gift the next. Once in a while, on a Wednesday night, ask the group to remember a beloved member of the congregation who is passing the first anniversary of their spouses death. Everyone will say, "Wow! I feel cared for."

Don't just acknowledge sad things. Acknowledge the one month anniversary of that new born child. Acknowledge the six month anniversary of a wedding.

This is pastoral care that helps people. This is pastoral care that makes people say Wow!

From time to time, you ought to evaluate every aspect of your church's ministry to see if there is a way to make people say, "WOW!"


Excerpt from The Power of Wow! from You Can Double Your Church In Five Years or Less. For the complete chapter, click here.