Monte Hunt – Worship Leader
There is a very successful burger franchise that I have eaten at a grand total of once in my life. And let’s just say that meal came out the same way it went in. My wife Amy has also gotten the chumbly-wumblies there as well (if that’s not a term for food poisoning, it is now). I say it is successful because if it weren’t, there wouldn’t be hundreds of them across the country. More than likely tens of thousands of people walk through the doors of one of their many establishments every day and the likelihood of getting sick is no greater than any other restaurant. That’s the rational side of me talking. The irrational and emotional side of me says, “I AM NEVER EATING THERE AGAIN!”
This is a consumer driven culture, and if I leave somewhere with a bad taste in my mouth (sometimes literally) I tend not to give that place a second chance. In contrast, there is one thing above any other that keeps me coming back to a business. Aside from a great product, it’s the sense that I am valued.
Unfortunately, our culture doesn’t turn off this mechanism when it comes to church. Quite often it only takes one bad experience for someone to determine that a particular church, from their perspective, is judgmental, self-serving, narrow-minded, and the list goes on. Whether we like it or not (my guess is not) this is the reality that we live in.
So what do we do about it? First, understand that no matter how awesome your church is people will always leave. But we need to make sure they leave because they can’t handle Jesus (1 Cor. 1:18-25), not because they can’t handle us!
Second, when you are at church, be “a good experience” for someone. As an example I try every week to go up to someone, introduce myself, and strike up a simple conversation. It’s such a small thing, but I guarantee you it makes a major impact. Sometimes I find myself chatting with a regular attender, which is still super great because I’ve made a new friend. But other times I discover the person is there for the first time. And if I hadn’t approached him or her, they may very well have come and gone through our doors without any one-on-one interaction. Translation: “This church doesn’t care about me.” What a difference a little small talk can make!
Last, if you are ready to be that “good experience” for someone, make it a priority to attend your church every week. This will not only be tremendously fruitful for your own spiritual life, but it will also increase the number of good experiences you can provide for others who walk through the doors.
I’ll leave you with this thought. When it comes to church great music may keep a person coming back for six weeks. Great teaching may keep a person coming back for six months. But great people will keep a person coming back for a lifetime.