Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Evangelical is NOT a four letter word....

I just received an e-mail from our District Administrator recruiting for the "Mystery Worshiper" program, and it immediately brought back a flood of memories from the days when I worked as a retail bookseller for the Barnes & Noble corporation, and my store was shopped quarterly by "Secret Shoppers" who evaluated our customer service according to a standard checklist of criteria generated by B & N's corporate customer service experts in New York. I remember the criteria very well, because I worked very hard to train my staff to follow them, and thus my store routinely received a perfect score. Greet the Customer personally as they enter the store, and ask them if they are looking for anything in particular. Take them to the section, put the book in their hand, and offer them an opportunity to purchase our discount card as you ring the transaction. I can remember THAT pitch practically word for word: "Are you a member of our Booksavers Club? Barnes & Noble offers a discount card which saves you 10% on everything you buy. It's good for a year; it costs $10 to sign up, and today it would save you $_____, which means that the actual cost of the card is only $_____. Do you think you'll be buying another $_____ worth of books in the next twelve months?" A little quick arithmetic produced a yes or no answer, and either sold the card or didn't. But I personally had the best card sale to transaction ratio in our entire district.

I've often wondered why our churches can't do as good a job of greeting people as your typical retail bookstore or restaurant. It's just a matter of common courtesy; it's not as if we're "selling" anything. Churches basically do three simple things for newcomers: we offer them hospitality; we provide them with certain services (including, of course, our Worship Service); we invite them into an authentic relationship, through which they gain the opportunity to become our partners in "doing unto others as we would have others do unto us." What's so terrible and scary about any of this? Why can't we show as much enthusiasm for what WE have to offer as our "server" does for the daily specials, or a bookseller for the latest Oprah-endorsed diet book?

An evangelist is merely a bearer of Good News. And if we aren't willing to share our good news with others, what's the point? It's not as if we have to be obnoxious about it. Hospitality. Service. Relationship. It's really just that simple. And it all begins by greeting people as they enter the door, and asking what brought them here today....

2 comments:

ms. kitty said...

Terrific post, Tim, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Mystery Worshipper feature at www.shipoffools.com ? They only visit Trinitarian churches but it's still worth a look to see what the reviewers noticed and what they liked and didn't like. Some people seem to like more personal attention than others. Me, I want to be greeted when I enter but then I want to be left alone and not grilled/interviewed.