Horst Schulze is the co-founder of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. I’ve been a student of his teachings about hospitality, service, and organizational science from the beginning of my call into professional ministry. Drawn to the hotel industry as a young teenager, he has practiced and consulted with organizations for improvement his entire career. He’s practical and shares how to lead rather than manage. His new book, Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise, puts this wisdom in one place.

With stories of successes and failures, Schulze shares the art of constant improvement by asking questions, trusting staff to be excellent, responding to the comments of many rather than one, and measurements that matter. His pursuit of excellence in the hospitality industry is based on his mantra of ‘training ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.’ We in the local church are equipping followers of Jesus in service to equip new followers of Jesus. I can relate.

On page 202, he asks, “Well, do you want to stay alive, or not?” Of course, we do. I don’t want to only survive from Sunday to Sunday, but rather thrive in the details that can make ministry with children a place of excellence.  I know what I FEEL like, but I can’t trust my feelings. I think every Sunday is fabulous! Yet further down the page, he makes the statement, “You won’t accomplish what you don’t measure.”

“Measurement is how we determine the gap between where we think we are and where we actually are.” (pg 188) Here are just a few metrics to consider:
• Attendance (comparing year to year, season to season, girls/boys, etc.)
• Volunteer retention from year to year (VBS, Sunday morning team, special events, etc.)
• Attendance of volunteer leaders at continuing education opportunities
• Percentage of children attending compared to congregation worship numbers
• First connection + 1; Second connection +1 (when a family/child comes in by one area then gets connected to another over a specific period of time)
• If t-shirts are part of the promoting of the ministry, how often am I seeing those t-shirts being worn? (I was thrilled to see tshirt worn in a collage of family pictures on their Christmas card. Every time I see anyone wearing one, I make a positive comment.)
• Percentage of children who have aged out coming back to serve on a consistent basis (taking on places of leadership to learn to lead and build relationships with the littles coming up behind them)
• Percentage of guests returning
• Children engaging in sacred conversations as well as moving away from responding in a critical and/or contrary way
• Individual growth as expressed through anecdotal examples from parents and children

Other prompts for thoughts and worthy of discussion from the book include…
• “Tell me what ‘being the best’ means to you.” (pg 113)
• “The more a staff interacts, talking to each other and supporting one another, the more smoothly the operation goes.” (pg 133)
• “The organization you want is the one with energy and initiative, even joy.” (Pg 170)
• “Actually to be the ‘best’ of anything is not the same as being ‘excellent.’ You can be better than all your competitors and still have a gap to deal with when it comes to achieving excellence. Excellence is what secures your future.” (pg 208)
• “Whether I’m interacting with an employee, a customer, an investor, or even a competitor, I am aware that this person is one of the ‘others’ Jesus had in mind when He gave the Golden Rule about treating them as I would want to be treated.” (pg 218)

“Finally, brothers and sisters…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Philippians 4:8