Recently, LT & I (peacefully) survived a major kitchen renovation in our new home. Once we made the decision it would be done, we sat down and mapped out a plan, carefully choosing all the upgrades and elements we would use in our new space. We spent lots of time, calculated thought and effort in this process, which included researching vendors and stores offering exactly what we wanted and the best prices.
One of the stores we chose to go with is a nationally known home improvement chain. Thinking it would be wiser and more convenient to deal with trained salespeople, we headed to the store, armed with a list of all the makes, models and serial numbers of everything we wanted to purchase from them. I won't go into all the details here, but let's just say that because of all the delays, dealing with poor customer service, wrong merchandise deliveries, cancelled installations and misinformation, we regretted our decision to use that company. And as a result, we've made a pact to avoid ordering or purchasing any major appliances from them again. The service, or lack thereof, from the company's employees have tarnished our image of this company as a whole. To be honest, if I had to give a rating for this company today, I would give them two thumbs down without any hesitation.
Ultimately our kitchen turned out beautifully (and even better than we planned). But as I reflect on our experiences with this company's employees and how we now view the company as whole, it caused me to pause and acknowledge that there are lots of people who turn away from or refuse to build a relationship with God based on the experiences and interactions they've had with His "ambassadors/employees" (aka "Church Folk").
Like LT and I did with this home improvement store, most people seek out a church because they have a need that they want the church to fulfill. Most times, people will research a church before attending. Perhaps they will ask family and friends for recommendations. They may visit the church's website or even stream a service or two to see if it's the "right fit" for them. Once they decide that a particular church has what they are looking for, they attend to have their need(s) met. However, their experience and interaction with the people there, who are ultimately representing God, can either make or break their desire to return or stay long term.
Just as I have, you have probably heard some people saying, 'I would go to church but the people...' You can probably complete the sentence with lots of words about the experience they've had with the people who are in the church. However, usually, their sentence is not about their experience with God. It's liken to our situation because the home improvement store (nor its products) is not the reason we won't be quick to return. Instead, our reluctance to return is due to the treatment from and our views towards the people that represent the store. Now, when we hear the name of the company, we associate it with the negative experiences we had with its representatives and, as a result, our rating of the company is poor.
TC'S Transparent Moment: There was a period of time when I was tempted to walk away from our current church because of the treatment I received from some of the people there. HOWEVER, I soon realized that my relationship with Christ is not based on the treatment of others. In fact, He instructs us to pray for, love and do good to those who are unkind to us. During that time, LT gave me great, sound advice: "Babe, rather than focus on people who don't treat you right, focus on those who do. Focus on your relationship with God." I listened to his advice and stayed planted. I continued to attend to receive the Word through our Pastor. I adjusted my focus from people to God. I learned to apply His Word to my life. I got a tougher skin. I didn't allow their behaviors to affect me. I loved on people who loved on me. My faith in God grew stronger. God even reconciled some of those relationships! Best. Decision. Ever.
Because I've been there before, it is easy for me to give advice to someone who may be experiencing this to say, "forget the people and focus on God." Yet, until you make that conscience decision to focus on Christ and not the people, it may not be that simple for them. So rather than focus on those who don't yet have that type of relationship with Christ, this WHOAment is for my fellow Believers.
People often view Believers as Christ's representatives -- because we are! When they see us, they see Him. Every time we interact with them (especially when we are outside of the church walls), whether you are aware or not, they are evaluating Christ. When they hear us telling those little white lies. When they see how we treat and speak to our spouse. When they see the way we treat our children. When they see us trying to cheat the system. When they see us taking advantage of others. When they see how we conduct ourselves on your jobs. When we say we are going to do something, but we don't. When they see the way we treat one another. When we... You name it. They are watching, taking notes and evaluating our God.
If people rated God, based on your representation, what rating would He receive? What steps can you make to improve His rating today? People's lives are in the balance and you may be the reason they come (back) to Christ.
I love hearing from you, so let's chat!
*If someone gave Christ a rating, based on your representation of Him, what rating would He receive?
*Do you prefer to shop online or in person? Why?
*Without naming names, briefly describe the best customer service you've received from a company.
*Without naming names, briefly describe the worst customer service you've received. What can they do to redeem themselves?