So as recent as the last 24 hours, I purchased a new iphone and then had to return this morning to figure out what was causing it to seize and not perform as an apple should! By the time I left the store I had interacted with four apple consultants who not only remembered my name but my "issue" and kept me feeling personally cared for until the issue was resolved. I went into the store feeling frustrated and left relieved knowing that four strangers interacted, showed they cared, and listened to my concerns and they fixed my phone :). My point in all of this, is perhaps as churches we should start modelling better "customer service". I know that churches do not have extra paid staff to do what happened in my situation but we definitely have volunteers that could be trained and placed strategically in our entrances that make direct eye contact and interact. The mechanical greeter who stands at the door and shakes your hand and says good morning is not enough to make me feel connected. It actually feels very awkward! But if four strangers interacted with me personally, not to solve my problems but just made me feel worth talking to on a Sunday morning perhaps more people would say," Wow, I am coming back here, the interaction was amazing and people really invest in people.". The revolving door might not happen as the numbers that exit would decrease.
I personally do not like people who follow me around in a store or church but if I walk into a new place and stand awkwardly waiting for someone to perhaps help me find out information , I would gladly talk to a stranger. I am an introvert and really did not feel uncomfortable talking to any of the individuals this morning.
I would like churches to rethink about their connecting process for newcomers. Maybe it is as simple as colour coded shirts with name tags in the foyer to help the welcome team get one step closer to achieving the purpose. The purpose should resonate with the thought that people belong before they believe.... if you walk in and feel like a lost soul in a huge auditorium or a small one you definitely won't come back. Eye contact will dictate whether or not someone wants to connect in a conversation as well as body language. It is time for churches to really care for people and see how connecting them to a community will help them go deeper in their spiritual journey. Apple never makes me feel awkward, old, or inferior in my knowledge. They are always great listeners, calm and strategic in how they guide me on next steps. So let's start applying these same principles in our faith communities. Design some great t- shirts and train and implement those customer care connector teams!