What my daughter’s tooth taught me about church

1 03 2011

Unfortunately, our little girl recently had a bad experience with an oral surgeon stumped by one of her baby teeth.

Due to her age, an allergy to a medication, and an apparent lack of dental professionals with common sense in Baltimore City…we ended up driving 26 miles. You see the dentist recommended that a baby tooth be pulled. The oral surgeon who was recommended to us, he just had no common sense when it comes to kids. Poor little girl had a bad experience.

Thankfully we found an amazing Oral Surgeon with a Harvard education, spectacular staff, common sense, and a real compassion for kids: Jennifer Forshey.

Here’s what she understands that others did not, and how I think it applies to church. It’s a long story and I won’t make you suffer the details. Please consider this: I went through more than 130 oral surgeons to find the right one. Will the average person put that kind of effort into looking for your church? If they do, what will they find?

1. Anxiety

Our little girl had a bad experience and as a result she had a whole lot of anxiety. There are many ways this was addressed. The compassion felt from everyone involved made a big difference. This also meant that they had current technology so that our little girl could go to sleep without seeing a needle. This meant solutions designed with the patient in mind. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had bad experiences in church. I understand why people don’t want to try a new church or go back to an old one.

  • Can people feel that you care (because you actually do)?
  • Does your method of delivery take into consideration what they are feeling and thinking?
  • Do you use technology in a way to communicate that you want to make it easier for them?

2. Team

The staff was well trained, asked questions, and listened with compassion. I cannot say this enough. Many of the people who answered the phone in other Oral Surgeon offices were, well in a word terrible! When I explained, to one office, that our daughter had a bad experience with a male surgeon and I wanted her to see a FEMALE surgeon…they said no problem and scheduled us to see Ms.____. Yet when we showed up this morning for that appointment that particular female surgeon was on vacation for a week! Every person on a team matters!

  • Do people believe that each of your team members are there to help them?
  • Do your team members ask questions and listen?
  • Do your team members understand why you exist?
  • What have you done to help your team members connect the dots?

3. Process

Their process was stream lined to help you. Each staff member was compassionate and clearly leading you down the path to the solution we wanted! They asked us qualifying questions and asked for a commitment (“closed the sale”). The web site is clean and easy to use. They use it for you to fill out your initial forms, spending less time in the “waiting room”. It was much quicker than filling out a form in an office! You believed that you were actually being helped.

  • Does your process feel simple?
  • Does your process move people toward the goal?
  • Do you ask for commitment?
  • Do people believe that they are being served?

Please understand that I do not write this with the thought that we “have it all figured out”. Quite the opposite. We are working hard and building slow because we know that we have plenty to learn. We are asking hard questions and working our tails off to find the answers.



3 responses

1 03 2011

And learning from dentists.

2 03 2011
Glenda Malmin

What valuable lessons the lives of our children teach us! Their pain is ours; their joy is ours — their relief and healing rejoices our hearts.
The application of this valuable learning ‘moment’ is a rich treasure for the birthing of this new church in Baltimore. Well-written, poingnantly applied, and wisely discerned.

2 03 2011
Glenda Malmin

One more thing, I’m going to share this valuable lesson in my General Epistles class today. Once again, a child leads us — the trials of a child can teach the church, it’s leaders, and it’s future leaders much! Thanks for sharing — thanks to Charlotte for being so brave and living through it.

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