I Went Back (AKA You Only Get One Chance…Mostly)

I have a pre-game ritual on Sunday mornings (by pre-game I mean before I preach and by ritual I mean just something I do).  I will go to a local fast food restaurant sit for a little bit and go over my sermon.  I have to get the sermon “back in my head” because mostly I have it done by Thursday and I try, mostly unsuccessfully, to not obsess about it over the weekend.

Anywho, I went to a different place two Sundays ago and got terrible service.  I blogged about it here.  I told the story, added a bit of creative exaggeration, ranted and made a connection that we need to be focused on serving people, whether it’s our job or not.  I didn’t think it was a particularly interesting post, but it struck a couple of people the wrong way and it blew up, with a lot of views and comments (BTW, disagree with me all you want on what I write, it helps traffic).  Some thought my attitude was poor and that I should have handled myself differently.

So, after saying that I wouldn’t, I went back yesterday.  Why?  Well my reasons are threefold:

1) Guilt

2) Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays

3) I knew that whatever happened would make for good blog fodder.

It was a different crew than I had previously.  The person at the cash register was very friendly and engaging.  There were fewer people working, serving more people.  It was a much more pleasant experience.  I will have to say that it was still not very clean and the WiFi is spotty at best.  I hope that is sufficient reason for me to not go back, although it has been demonstrated that I can be motivated by guilt.  You could try and convince me that what I should do is go next time with my own cleaning supplies.  Though I don’t think that helping multi-billion dollar corporations maintain a clean environment will make it on my to do list.  You can try though.

This all had me thinking (of course it did), often we only get one chance.  You can apply this into a different context if you want, but I think about it with regards to church.  When people visit your church, you typically only get one shot.  If they have a bad experience, if the people aren’t friendly, if their children aren’t well taken care of, most people will write your church off.  We can discuss that it shouldn’t be that way, but there are a lot of things that we could wish would be different that aren’t.  It doesn’t change the fact that you only get one chance to welcome someone for the first time, show them God’s love through everything you say and do, and create a place where they can feel at home.

If our only competition is other churches, then it’s not that big of a deal.  I hope that people find a great church somewhere.  We are all on the same team.  There are way too many people who need God to fight over the same people.  However, other churches aren’t the real competition.  The real competition is “I knew church wasn’t for me,” and they are done.  You never know when a new person walks into your church and this was them giving God and his Church one more chance, one last chance.  You never know when someone is coming in a desperate situation and needs someone to smile at them, love them, love their kids, and say and show “we’re glad you’re here.”

This is not just a staff responsibility.  Everyone needs to feel that kind of ownership.  Even if it is only your second time at your church, become a greeter and ambassador.  Even if you are visiting a church out of state that you will never see again, greet and love the people around you.  If you happen upon a new person, they won’t know or care that you are not a member.  They will assume that you are (they also will assume you are if you say nothing), and they will just be glad that someone helped them experience God’s love in a tangible way.

Just remember you often only have one chance.