bits from bob....

Church--Are You a Customer or a Worker?

by Robert J. Young
©, 2003, Robert J. Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

I went to Taco Bell last evening for a snack. Business was slack, perhaps because of the late hour. I noticed that the young lady who had taken my order busied herself around the entry and eating areas when no one was in line. As I left, she was cleaning the glass doors. I jokingly said to her, "If you do windows, you're welcome to come to my house." Then I asked her how often the doors were done. Her reply? "Usually about every 30 minutes, but company policy says they have to be done at least once an hour."

This young lady was a conscientious employee who was anxious that the restaurant look its best and be clean and attractive. As a customer, I had no interest nor inclination to clean the doors and windows. But she was not a customer, she was a worker.

As I travel across our brotherhood and visit various church buildings, I can generally tell whether the members of a church consider themselves customers or workers. I'm amazed by members who leave trash in the pews and songbooks either out of the racks or askew. I automatically think "customers." I'm amazed by members who walk right by bottles, cans, and papers on the parking lots or on the lawn and sidewalks--"customers." I'm amazed by members who virtually knock down visitors in the effort to get to their Bible classes or favorite pew but never notice that a stranger is among us trying to decide what to do and where to go next--"customers." I'm amazed by members who take the back seats so the latecomers must traipse toward the front--"customers." I'm amazed by members who have to park as close to the door as possible or in handicapped spaces, even when it blocks the driveways and inconveniences others--"customers." (Exclude the elderly and physically impaired.)

I'm amazed by how often I hear, "Why didn't they?"--"customers." The better question is, "Why didn't you?" I'm not suggesting we charge our ushers with doing the doors and windows every 30 minutes, but the things I've mentioned make an impact on visitors and influence their first impressions of us. They make almost immediate decisions based on the appeal of our facilities and the friendliness of our members to form a first impression of our church.

Who wants to shop where you can't get helped--where it's all customers and no workers? Not many! Who wants to go to church where you can't get noticed--where it's all customers and no workers? Not many, unless they have a previous loyalty.

By the way, have you heard anyone ask lately why we're not baptizing folks like we used to?


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Last updated November 5, 2003.