Creating community…..

BEING part of a community, being community takes some thought as to how that is nurtured, fashioned, cherished.  I have been thinking alot about this since the launch (and actually for the last year really).  How do we really BE part of this new community….how do we help others create community….? Because I have these thoughts just under the surface of my consciousness…..I see “lessons” in random experiences. I notice where efforts to “be community” are working and wonder why and how might this apply to the context of creating community at Concordia.

The challenge of our welcome team on Sunday morning (some 40 volunteers) is to be that welcoming presence that contributes to a welcoming, relaxing Sunday morning experience.  Why?  We know that visiting a new place can be tense and that is not a good experience. We also know that when you are relaxed, you can enter into the Sunday morning experience learning a BIG TRUTH about God.  We want to create environments where people in this community can connect not only with God but with each other. Communities where people do life together are strong and healthy.

If you are part of the Welcome Team read the below, consider and let me know what you think?

If you have visited Concordia, how are we doing?  Where might be improve?  I am hoping to get some comments on this one….!!

Elizabeth (my 21 yr old daughter who studies in Irvine) is a Trader Joe’s fan since she has been up in Irvine.  She wanted to introduce me to the Trader Joe’s experience and we went to the one in Eastlake on Saturday.  Our first stop was near the bread….she was telling me about this bread and I was just randomly looking around and a young man came up and asked if we needed help.  Liz asked a question and he responded with some tips about the product and he also included a bit of own experience.

LESSON #1: Be watchful for opportunities to be helpful.  Connections happen when you share something of your own experience.

As soon as this nice young man answered our unspoken question, he excused himself.  Liz’s tour continued in the produce department and down the first aisle of cheeses.  A stocker in the cheese section smiled at us.  Liz asked her a question about the brie.  The checker stopped what she was doing and showed Liz the selection of cheeses.

LESSON #2: Look and act approachable by smiling and inviting further engagement.  When you get an opportunity, put everything aside and be in the moment, respond to what you are asked.

We made our way down to the end of the fresh produce and the nice young man who helped us in the bread dept was on his way somewhere else but had a laughing, friendly exchange with another employee.

LESSON #3:  When you enter a place where people who work together laugh and seem to enjoy each other, it’s a relaxing environment.  I am sure you have experienced the opposite and have entered a place where there is tension…..not a good place to be.  Don’t be fooled… people pick up on those things.

We turned the corner to go down aisle #2.  Another stocker who had personality coming out of his pores, greeted us.  Although he was continuing his work, he directed his attention to us.  He read Elizabeth’s T-shirt that said, “Got Tequila, huh?” and he read it outloud.  I told him Elizabeth had just turned 21 on the weekend.  He said, “Ohhhh. trouble!”  I told him I was with her the whole weekend.  Later I thought it was weird I said all that to him…..a stranger.  He was so approachable!

LESSON:  Look for points of conversation and convergance.  Being around people … conversation … it’s what sharing life with other people is all about!

Made it through the rest of the aisles with my own tour guide explaining the various products that she had tried and which products the little boy she babysits likes and which ones her roomates likes, etc.

We finally hit the checkstand and Elizabeth started the check out while I went back for bananas  (good prices……good product ….. 19 cents when I have purchased two bunches of bananas a week for years at 67 cents!)

By the time I came back the checker already knew that Elizabeth had given me the tour and that she shopped at the Irvine store.  I came into the conversation when the checker introduced me to the store manager as someone who was here at Trader Joe’s for the first time!  (not technically true…I had been in there before….but just a quick visit….not the whole Trader Joe’s experience)  He comented that I was getting the full Trader Joe’s experience.  Finally, the cashier said, “Once you get the full Trader Joe’s experience, you can’t shop any where else.” I felt like I was part of a select group!

LESSON:  Share the vision of what you want to see at every encounter.  Create additional connections….extend the network.

The young bagger picked up on Elizabeth talking about going to college in Irvine.  He said he lived there too…..near Jamboree and UCI and did she go to UCI?  She explained she went to Concordia University.

LESSON:  Everyone shares the vision…..from the youngest and lowest paid to the highest leader.  Everyone is responsible for creating connections….for helping guests feel important and comfortable.

Good job Trader Joe’s.  You created a great shopping experience!

What shopping experience have you had recently that was excellent and what did they do?  How can we apply this to make the Concordia experience the best it can be?