Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Worship Wednesdays - Is Your Church Better Than a Burger Joint?

Last night, Gerald and I took my Dad out for his Father's Day present - a burger feast! We braved the thunder storms and headed off to The Works. We perused their seemingly endless menu and chose thick milkshakes, fresh cut fries, and burgers topped with such delicacies as grilled pineapple and sliced brie.

Our meals arrived and after the appropriate photo opp, we began to indulge. Everything tasted fantastic, and the conversation flowed. But as Dad and I made our way through our meals, we noticed something wasn't correct with our order. It wasn't a big deal, but our food hadn't arrived as ordered.

When the waiter came to take our empty plates, we let him know that we had no complaints, but that our orders had been incorrect. We assured him that we were completely satisfied and sated, but we just wanted to bring the discrepancy to his attention.

What happened next blew us away.

The manager came out to ask about our concerns. He then apologized, explained their regular kitchen procedure, and apologized again. Then, he told us that our entrees would all be complimentary - including Gerald's meal, which had been perfect. And then, he handed each of us a coupon for a free meal on our next visit! He stayed a full 10 minutes at our table, chatting, asking about our evening, and making sure we left feeling good.

We couldn't believe it.

We left the restaurant overwhelmed with the amazing customer service, and confident that we would make a return visit. As we retold the story later that evening, I thought,

"Do we make people in the church feel this good?"

The manager's apology was more than enough. Remember, we hadn't actually made a complaint. When he comped our meal, it was a way to make us feel good about the evening's experience. And when he gave us the coupon, it was his way of saying, "Give us another chance!"

In the last few months, I've had the opportunity to visit a few churches, not as a guest musician, but as a guest worshiper. When I visit churches like this, I make a point of not speaking to anyone first. I want to see if I'll be welcomed, if anyone will reach out to me as a visitor. Some churches have been very welcoming. In others, I've arrived, worshipped, and left without a single parishioner or pastor saying hello to me.

There are lots of reasons why people choose a church, but most people will also tell you that the friendliness of the congregation themselves can make or break that decision.

  • How do we make people feel when they walk through our doors? 
  • Are we welcoming and inviting? 
  • Do we make it easy to join in our rituals and activities? 
  • Do they leave feeling valued and appreciated? 
  • Do we treat visitors and long time attendees with equal love and compassion? 
  • Are we letting people know, "We're so glad you came! There's a home here for you. How can we serve you?"

The Works didn't want to lose us as customers, and they made sure we knew it.

As Christians, we should want to keep folks in our churches for higher reasons.

Are we willing to give extraordinary service to keep them coming back for more?

Worship Wednesdays is a weekly series to encourage and equip worship leaders and songwriters. Bookmark this page & visit us every Wednesday!


Malcolm+ said...

I certainly don't disagree with the importance of welcoming as part of the ministry (and evangelism) of the local congregation. But I am often disconcerted by the "customer service" analogy.

I think there is validity in the analogy, and we can certainly learn from non-church examples. But the analogy runs the risk of feeding what is, I think, an even greater impediment and threat to congregational life and witness - the consumer model of religious engagement. The newcomer as "customer" is entirely appropriate, but the long time attendee as customer rather than contributer and participant is killing the church.

Allison Lynn said...


I agree that the analogy, like most analogies, has its limits. What struck us most at the restaurant was their desire to make us feel satisfied, and their desire to see us return. I think more churches need to exhibit that same passion in drawing people into their communities. Some already have it; some have a long way to go.

Thanks for reading & for your comment!