As a truck driver, I am limited to using a specific brand of gasoline stations in order to purchase fuel with the company fleet card. I have tried several stations within this brand throughout the metro region. One of them has emerged as my favorite. A couple of its counterparts boast a similar price point and reasonable convenience, but I keep returning to this station primarily because it is the friendliest. No attitudes. Just quick service with a kind word or two. In and out with a smile every time.
The same principle holds true for the grocery stores I frequent. I know which stores in my area to avoid. A couple of stores, however, have earned my frequent business. Not because I could save 3 cents a gallon on milk, or buy bread far more cheaply. It is the people factor. Sure, price is important. I want the best deal I can get. But it is the people who are instrumental in causing me to remember my experience. A smile is worth far more than an extra dime or two in my pocket, especially if the alternatives are rudeness or being ignored when service is needed.
Kindness is powerful. It costs nothing financially to businesses, unless they choose to abandon it. Its absence is a similarly potent detriment to faith communities in their many varied iterations. Its presence starts with leadership. Do you know how your local church is perceived by newcomers? Are you sure? If not, you may want to find out.
Whether you are a house church, a brick and mortar church, a homeless church, or a cyber church, it all boils down to how you treat people. They will remember their initial experience with you far longer than they will be able to recite your doctrinal statement. If you want to enable people to encounter the living God through worship in your setting, begin by representing him as his Ambassador through kindness and real community.