BeUndivided’s 5 Core Principles Part 3—Excellence

Churches have a reputation to overcome.

In 2008, when Pastor Kip Jacob of SouthLake Church agreed to send his congregation to Roosevelt High School to volunteer painting, landscaping, and cleaning, it was the maintenance and facilities staff at the school that was most reluctant to receive the “help.”concern? That volunteers would do shoddy work, and leave it for school staff to fix – something they could not afford.

There is often this deficit of trust when churches partner with schools. This is why we urge churches to adopt a mindset of excellence when they enter a school building, being careful to under promise and over deliver.

The first element of the above saying (which quickly became a mantra for SouthLake’s work at Roosevelt), “under promise”, can be a real challenge in an environment where needs are great. We suggest to churches that they choose (or accept) projects carefully – agreeing to only those opportunities that they are certain they can deliver on with excellence, and to which they can make a long-term commitment.

Often, where help is needed most – schools in under-resourced communities – high quality ANYTHING is rare. The facilities are often broken and dirty, the kids are making-do/getting by with very little support, and the teachers themselves are working long hours and donating supplies to their own classrooms. While this may seem like a justification for churches to do anything at any level – we need to be reminded that we are Christ’s church, and when he helped - he gave us his all.

Because of this, we define the second element of the saying, “over deliver”, based on excellence in professional circles - as if the school hired us to our agreed task as professionals – and could fire us if we failed to meet high professional standards.

We’ve found that when project leaders adopt the vision of excellence for the work being done, the level of excitement for that project increases, and it actually attracts more volunteers and resources.

A number of SouthLake’s projects at Roosevelt have benefitted because of the project leaders’ commitment to excellence:

Since we serve schools without an agenda to proselytize, we see “excellence” as our proclamation of who we are as followers of Jesus. Jesus always over-delivered. As the church becomes known for doing great work in the school, it builds trust with the school and community, and reluctance is replaced with confidence and real partnership.

From a place of this kind of trust – there is no limit to what churches can do in their community and schools. It starts with under-promising – and over-delivering.

By Jeff Martin