The People Business

Lesson – The People Business

Author – Irvin Jack Cunningham

How would your church rateA Lincoln, Nebraska church paper recorded the research of a lady who visited 18 churches on successive Sundays.

To evaluate the friendliness of each church, the researcher sat near the front of the sanctuary each time and walked slowly to the rear, then returned to the front using another aisle. On each occasion, she was dressed neatly, and with a smile asked at least one person to direct her to the social hall, pastor’s study, etc. 

She used the following point scale to rate the reception she received:

  • 10 pts. – a smile from a worshipper
  • 10 pts.- greeting from the nearby person
  • 100 pts. – exchange of names
  • 200 pts. – invitation to coffee or dinner
  • 200 pts. – invitation to return1,000 pts.introduction to another worshipper
  • 2,000 pts.invitation to meet the pastor

On this scale, all the 18 churches visited earned fewer than 100 points. The researcher’s conclusion is as follows: “The preaching may be Biblical, the singing inspirational or the sermon uplifting, but when a visitor finds no one who cares whether he/she is there, he/she is not likely to come back.” 

Read that conclusion again. Let the truth of it sink in. People in our community and our area usually enter the church building because of some spiritual need. However, it is vital that the particular person or family visiting feel welcome and wanted in the place of worship. Where they find common ground and fellowship, they should find a welcome.

How well would your church do on such a rating? Would its faith and love be expressed through friendliness?

The Church is in the people business:Building something into the lives of people is a

fundamental responsibility of the church and ministry. Each church, and minister should build

its “concept of ministry” around meeting the real needs of real people. All ministers and leaders

should be continually developing their people skills. Why? Because people are souls, because

souls are eternal, and because the church is in the people business.

We allow many things to occupy our time: buildings, grounds, vehicles, computers, musical

instruments, organization, administration… Yet these things, though necessary responsibilities

of the ministry, are not the business of the church. The primary business of the church is

people. And by the way, people are God’s primary business too. When He returns to the earth

to take with Him that which He considers being precious, buildings, buses, and computers will

not be going up in the rapture. The only thing that God is going to take up in the rapture of the

church is people!

Anyone dealing with the public is in the people business!

  • The successful restaurateur knows that he is not in the food business—he’s in the people business.
  • The successful clothier knows that he is not in the clothing business—he’s in the people business.
  • The successful church pastor knows that he is not in the building, music, preaching, or organizing business—he is in the people business.

Real Success:It has often been said, “Success is the ability to get along with people.”

All things being equal, the main difference between a successful and unsuccessful business is usually the difference in how each treats its customers. John D. Rockefeller said, “I will pay more for the ability to get along with people than any other ability.”

It is a matter of fact in the business world: Customers will return to a business where they are treated well. They will not return to do business with a company or store where they were not treated well. The same applies to the church. Guests will return to a church where they are treated well, but they will not return if they were not received warmly.

To better illustrate this point, I will share some statistics with you that I recently ran across.

When the question was asked, “Why Do Customers Quit?

  • 1% Die
  • 3% Move Away
  • 5% Other Friendships
  • 9% Competitive Reasons (product cost)
  • 14% Product Dissatisfaction
  • 68% Because of Attitude of Indifference!

The number one reason why customers quit is the employee and business do not communicate care for the customer. That is powerful, in relation to the responsibility of the church to its guests. I wonder how many first-time guests never come back because they felt an attitude of Indifference in the Church!

Successful businesses operate by the concept,The Customer Is Number One. We have all done business with a company that had an employee who made us not want to return to their store, company or business. There was nothing wrong with the business, their location, their decorations, even their prices. It was a rude or indifferent employee that caused you to quit doing business with them. Rule number one in business is: If we don’t take care of our customer, somebody else will!

According to a Cambridge survey of 1500 Americans:

  • 1 in 4 customers is upset enough by poor service to stop doing business with the company who provided the poor service.
  • 83% of 1000 respondents say they will not return to a restaurant if they get poor service.

Why do new people initially visit a church?Elmer Townes, President of Church Growth

Institute and producer of the very effective Sunday School promotion entitled Friend Day,

researched the question, “Why do new people initially visit a church?” Their findings are very

important to any church that is interested in reaching new people.

86% of first-time visitors attend a church because a Friend, Relative, an Acquaintance, or Neighbor invited them. The acronym F.R.A.N. is used to help you remember the importance of this group.

Equally important to this study are the things that are of little or no importance to a first-time guest. They found that guests do not initially visit a church because of …

  • Denominational affiliation.
  • Neighborhood church.
  • Church doctrine.

Why do guests return for asecond visit? We have researched the question, “Why do guests return for a second visit?” We have found the following: 

  • The number one factor in a guest returning for a second visit is directly connected to how they were treated on their first visit. 
  • The second contributing factor is the continued influence of F.R.A.N. 
  • The third factor is that on their initial visit to the church, they had some level of experience with God that touched their life (i.e. Healing, repentance, salvation, worship, etc.).

Why do guests remain with a church?Net Results magazine published an article in 1997 entitled, “Why do visitors remain withachurch?” In this article, they listed the top thirteen (13) reasons why guests will choose to make a church “their church.”

I am listing them for you in order:

  • Helpful services
  • Relate to minister
  • Friendly people
  • Theology
  • Live nearby
  • Church programs
  • Follow-up
  • Children’s ministry
  • Small Groups
  • Facilities
  • Service schedule
  • Church size
  • Denomination

Sanctuary Manners:The “10 Commandments of Sanctuary Manners” are:

  • Don’t hog the end of the row.
  • Don’t fight for your regular seat.
  • Don’t stare at new people when they walk in.
  • Smile at and greet everyone you meet.
  • Introduce yourself as soon as possible.
  • Offer assistance.
  • Share your Bible.
  • Compliment the guest.
  • Take time to get acquainted after service.
  • Be sensitive to the spiritual needs of the guest.

I’m anice stranger:I never complain; I never create a scene. When I go to church, I never offer an objection if the usher leads me down a long aisle to a bad seat because all the members of the church have the best seats. No, I just take my assigned seat. I’m a nice visitor. 

  • I never growl when I have to push by and walk over the feet of selfish church members who take the aisle seats and would not move out of their favorite places if it meant the salvation of a soul. No, I just sit down meekly. I am the ideal church stranger.
  • I never reprimand young people who sit close to me talking, chewing gum and giggling. I’m too polite for that.
  • At the close of the service, as I walk toward the door, I never make a scene if no one speaks to me or shakes my hand. No, they gather in their little cliques and don’t bother me. I’m a nice visitor to the church.
  • I’ll tell you what else I am. I’m the stranger who never comes back. That’s my little revenge for not being welcome. 
  • I know when I’m not wanted. I can sense when the church members are cliquish and unfriendly. 
  • I can tell when they lack interest in the spiritual welfare of the visitors. I, of course, am too nice to say anything. 
  • I just go to some other more hospitable, friendly and spiritual church, or I don’t go to church at all.
  • I wouldn’t make a complaint. I’m a nice visitor. I just don’t go back. And millions of us can be reached by a little hospitality and warmth.”

The important question is: Are you just a nice complacent church member, or are you genuinely concerned about the spiritual condition of a stranger?