What does your church have to offer? That’s the question I hear asked often when people begin looking for a church. Our consumer driven mindset has trickled into our choice of churches. So, we pick the one with the best “stuff.” This has led churches to competition—he who has the most toys wins. I’m fine with churches having stuff. I like stuff. Stuff is good. Stuff is awesome. I love the playgrounds, the laser lights, and the broadway-like productions some churches offer. There is certainly nothing innately wrong with such things. Cool stuff is, well… cool. But I recently read a story that reminded me of a few things:
Mamie Adams always went to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly. She went there to buy stamps just before Christmas one year, and the lines were particularly long. Someone pointed out that there was no need to wait in line because there was a stamp machine in the lobby. “I know,” said Mamie, “but the machine won’t ask me about my arthritis” (Bits and Pieces, December 1989, p. 2). For Mamie, it was all about the relationship.
My wife and I use a local pharmacist. His name is Endo. He’s not open 24 hours like some of the bigger pharmacies, and I can’t walk into his shop and grab milk and groceries. But he freely gives out his cell phone number for emergencies and he knows my entire family by name. On birthdays and even our anniversary, we receive gift cards and discounts in personally signed greeting cards from Endo. He remembers all our illnesses, sometimes more than we’d like. We once pulled up to the window and he popped his head out and asked in somewhat broken English: “You use bathroom every day now?” Yes Endo, thank you for asking. And he somehow always manages to find us the best deals on every medication. So we come back, time and time again. Why? Because we know Endo, and Endo knows us. It’s not about the product—it’s about the relationship.
Church is the same way. All over the world churches of all sizes are thriving. Some offer the most amazing product money can buy. Some offer (as far as product goes) nothing more than a dimly lit room and a quick devotion. But both can be just as healthy as the other. How? They focus on the relationships being created . I’ve attended both large and small churches, and the only thing I remember from any of them are the relationships I created—or the ones I didn’t create. And as I peer into the New Testament, that seems to be the most important aspect of Christian community.
The product can create crowds, but the relationships will create disciples. I like the former, but I’m more interested in the latter. But then, maybe it’s just me.Keep reading… Is There Any Value in “Classic” Sunday School? I Miss Mayberry What Is Discipleship? 5 Reasons I Haven’t Left the Church