Written Word

As a Christian, I should make the church attractive to others through my behaviour

The church should not have to look to the business world to see how we ought to conduct ourselves. But occasionally an example comes our way that serves to remind us of what we ought to be.

Business people know that the success of their company is dependent upon repeat business. Not only that, the customer should be pleased to recommend the company to others. If customers do not return, the company will go out of business. So what turns a first time buyer into a life-long customer? Satisfaction. Satisfaction with the service received, the quality of the product, the after-sales service, the efficient manner in which a complaint was handled, the policy of the company to treat him as a valued customer upon whom they depend for their own success in business.

On the other hand, customer satisfaction declines rapidly after a number of negative experiences such as coffee served at a dirty table, lukewarm food, slow service and badly trained staff. How can a business guarantee that the customer will be satisfied? Jan Carlsson, former Chief Executive of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), describes the formula this way: “SAS has ten million passengers a year. The average passenger comes in contact with five SAS employees. Therefore, SAS as a company consists of 50 million points of contact with the customer. SAS is fifty million ‘moments of truth’ per year. Fifty million unique, never-to-be-repeated opportunities to distinguish ourselves, in a memorable fashion, from our competitors.” Carlson then puts the issue in stark relief. His company may only get one opportunity to create a loyal customer, so he reduces his business to this single sentence: “SAS is the contact of one customer with one person at SAS.” It is a sobering thought for anyone in business.

Each day, as we go about our Father’s business, we can apply the strategy of SAS. Often we may be the only opportunity others will have to know what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Will they be drawn to Jesus by the encounter? And when visitors come to the church will they sense that God is among his people? Will they feel drawn to come back next Sunday? Will their encounter with the church lead them to bringing others along? The satisfaction rating will rise rapidly if we behave in such a way “that no one will malign the word of God”, that people will “have nothing bad to say about us” and “in every way [we] will make the teachings about God our Saviour attractive.” (Titus 2:5,8,10) In one of the most remarkable statements in the Bible, the apostle John tells us both that God is love and that no one has ever seen God. Then he goes on to say, “…but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12) His point: God becomes visible through the lives of those who exhibit his love. In other words, people can encounter God through his people.

Look again at Carlson’s business ethic: “SAS is the contact of one customer with one person at SAS.” Let’s change the words slightly to read – “God touches this world through the contact of one person with one Christian.” For many, the church is their first point of contact with God. Will they return?