I recently listed 10 areas in our church where we are not satisfied. Nothing is necessarily broken, but there is room for evaluation and improvement.
The law of diminishing astonishment is partially to blame for a few items on the list, like decreasing attendance patterns from regular attendees and lack of enthusiasm within the upper grades of some family ministry departments.
This law reflects the reality of how extraordinary today begins to feel ordinary over time. For example:
- People who attend our church for the first time can’t believe the musical talent. They are surprised by our excellence. And they are moved by their experience.
- New guests love how we orchestrate the parking lot with volunteers and egress.
- First-time families can’t believe how we prioritize their children’s experience — even texting parents during the service with an update if needed.
I could go on, but you get the point. In your church, a similar phenomenon is happening, too. People are walking in for the first time, and their initial experience is extraordinary. The problem is human nature. Because the experiences you are creating week in and week out are equally extraordinary. In many cases, the experience is improving over time as you evaluate and improve. But the rate of new can’t keep up with the human condition.
That’s the law: What’s extraordinary today will feel ordinary over time. The employees at Disney suffer from this law. People who live at the beach suffer from this reality. And so do the people attending our churches. It causes them to attend less frequently. It causes them to engage less prolifically. It causes us to want to quit.
Our initial solution is to create more new, different, and improving experiences. We’ve all tried that, and we’ve all failed to one-up ourselves over and over again. It’s impossible. There’s simply no way to move faster than the human condition. So what can we do?