2. “Come experience a community of grace.”
Again, this is your goal, but you can’t deliver on the promise.
I had promised a safe environment for a friend of mine, and she joined me at church one weekend.
In the middle of service, her cell phone went off. When the the part of the service came for us to greet others, my friend turned around to shake hands with the man sitting behind her. Instead, he scolded her for being rude and selfish, and asked her not to come back if she couldn’t have the decency to turn her phone off during church.
Yes, it’s a distraction for others when a cell phone goes off. Obviously.
However, what isn’t obvious is whether or not my friend was taking a gigantic step by attending church for the first time in years.
What isn’t obvious is whether or not my friend already felt judged by Christians and was disinterested in joining a community of hypocrites.
What isn’t obvious is whether or not my friend will ever give church a chance again and whether she thinks I’m a liar or not because I promised her a safe environment.
She doesn’t look at that man as an individual, she looks at him as the church. Right, wrong or indifferent.
Hey, are you being honest with yourself? Look at everything you’re promoting again and how you’re doing it.
What are you putting out there that you should really cut?
What expectations are you setting that are unrealistic and out of your control?
If people think we’re liars anyway, what are we doing to diffuse this perception and build trust?
Are we making statements as if they were facts, when in reality they are subjective and left to personal interpretation?
Are you promising something you can’t deliver on?
Are you baiting people with exaggerated benefits?
Are you talking too much and saying too little?
It’s our job to make decisions in the context of people’s lives, regardless of the type of church we’re in. The context of emotions, cultural perspective and real-life baggage is relevant to all of us.
A lot of times, the solution is as simple as providing just the facts and nothing else. Remove the fluff. That’s the first step toward turning a potentially negative experience into a great one.