Last Friday, Richard and I started out (after stopping at a pizza buffet to gather sustenance for the hunt) in search of a new sofa - preferably a sectional. Our old one is tired and whines every time we sit on her.
The first place we stopped was an average run of the mill furniture store - not flashy. We parked right in front of the door, walked in and browsed the aisles (it was actually kind of small so it didn't take us too long to do that). Richard fell in love with a sectional that had cup holders and a place for the remotes. (OH, NO! I thought to myself.) The salesman, an average looking guy, found a price for us in the fabric we wanted. He continued to answer our questions in a straightforward manner - without being pushy.
The next place we stopped was close by, but we could not find the front door. We had to park in a back lot and meander our way past other stores hoping to find the front door. Luckily, we did and began to browse the aisles there (a little bigger with an "overflow" room). The salesman was slick - dressed nicely and agreed with anything you said. There were no prices on the tags, except enormously exaggerated prices with an X marked through each one. We asked about a price and he had to go ask the owner. He came back and said we needed to sit down because this was such a GREAT DEAL! (Just give it to me, Mister-- I can take it!) The TODAY ONLY price was still more than the other store.
After we left, I told Richard I saw so many parallels between sofa shopping and church shopping (minus the God factor, of course). May I share a few parallels that jumped out me?
Make it easy for folks to find you. Maps, signs, and more signs can help people know they are going the right way.
Be genuine. I was so turned off by the slick salesman. Be yourself. Be interested in others. Be real.
Be up front about who you are. If you're not a mega-church, don't pretend to be. Do what you do well. Your church is not for everyone. I know how hard it is to see ANYONE leave (when you don't have many to start with), but each person is looking for something different. If they're not going where you are going, better to let them keep shopping.
Keep the main thing the main thing. I didn't care about the surroundings or the extra stuff, I needed a sofa. People need Jesus - that's why you do what you do! HE is the most important part of every service and introducing people to Him is the primary thing.
Well, I never expected to connect our furniture shopping to church planting, but hey, it must be imbedded in the brain. Forgive me for "preaching!"
PS Don't you just love the sectional in the picture - but, oh no, where are the cup holders?!