Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Can You Recommend Your Church?

Once you were likely to receive an unannounced visit from a church you recently visited. They would arrive at your door and want to talk to you about your faith and the church. They would expect you to open your door and spend a minimum of thirty minutes to an hour assuring them of your faith. This method has become less and less effective (except possibly in rural situations). Many people see this an invasion of their homes. They do not want anyone coming unannounced. They don't like it when their family does this to them; why would they want someone they don't know doing this?

Many churches went to the telephone contact people for their church. They reasoned that this was not an invasion of privacy. The telephone seemed benign. Then, the telemarketers hounded people. They called until no one could eat their evening meals. They called in the middle of favorite television programs. They called until caller identification became a standard feature on phones. Now, the contact from a church is met with the same resistance as if the church is a telemarketer.

Email seems to be the next best solution. Many find it the most impersonal but it neither invades privacy nor interrupts what is going on. Then, spam came to destroy this method of contact. People started getting so many unsolicited emails that spam filters became the norm. Many will never see their emails received because the person must place the address of the sender into their address book before that email can proceed. Of course, the church or the church member who is making this contact is not in the address book. Therefore, the emails being sent are going unread.

So, how are churches to make contacts if these methods are ineffective? I am glad you asked.

I have a couple of Honda cars. Hondas need their timing belts changed every 80,000 miles. That time has come on one of my vehicles. I asked people who I should go to. Most people scratched their heads and said they didn't know. A recommendation is putting your own reputation on the line. The people I asked did not want to be responsible for a bad mechanic. They preferred to be silent.

Finally, someone recommended a place to me. This place works on Hondas exclusively. I went looking for them on the internet. They were listed in the White Pages but did not have a website. I called them and told them what I needed. Their hours of operation were very limited. I got a map from google and headed to their business. They were very hard to find with the GPS and the map. How are they able to stay in business?

The answer is simple. They live on recommendations. I have never seen their advertising. No one is going to find their business unless they are purposely driving there. (And many of them will lose their way!) They must do a great job or they will never see another customer.

Is this a crazy idea for a church? Should a church exist on its reputation? Why hasn't the church done so?

Jesus healed a blind man by making some mud from His spittle and putting it on the man's eyes. The blind man was instructed to wash the mud off at Siloam. The man received his sight and, no doubt, exuberantly declared that Jesus had healed him.

Those who chose not to believe questioned the man who said, "Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see." (Does this sound like a recommendation to you?) The man who was born blind had become someone who would endorse Jesus wholeheartedly.

This is what is missing in the church. Few people are saying that they have found the One who can open their eyes. Every method we use is going to be ineffective as long as this is true. Maybe the church has not been that effective in opening eyes.

Therefore, the man born blind became a believer. Those around him received his recommendation. Every day he walked around seeing was a testimony to Jesus.

Of course, some people will never believe nor will they accept our recommendations. That's not the point anyway. We must be in the business of opening the eyes of people by the power of Jesus if we are to reach out world. It will be on their recommendations (testimonies) that the church will exist. We will stand on fact that Jesus is the Messiah. We will proclaim who He is through our seeing.

Listen to this seeing man's recommendation:

John 9:30-33 (NIV)
30 The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

No comments: