The reason is, as Rick Warren puts it, “People are not looking for a friendly church; they are looking for friends.” A guy at our local mall helped me to understand the difference. He was working at one of those little kiosks selling electronic gizmos and gadgets. He surprised me when he called me by name. He didn’t look even vaguely familiar to me.
“Are you Josh Hunt?” he asked.
“Oh, I wouldn’t expect you to remember me. I used to attend your church but I don’t attend church anymore,” he said. Then he really surprised me. He asked, “Would you like to know why? Would you like to know why I don’t attend church anymore?”
Let me ask you the same question: Would you like to know why? Would you like to know the reason why this guy doesn’t attend church anymore?
Very bluntly stated he said, “People are only nice to you at church.”
It wasn’t enough for him. It wasn’t enough that we declared a message about a God who loved him. He wanted people to love him too. It wasn’t enough that we told him about how he could have a friend in Jesus. He wanted human friends as well. It is not enough to just deliver content about a God who loves; we must represent God. That is, we must help people to feel from us what God feels about them — love.