Here are four final applications:
- I think facilities are a big issue on the application of generic ketchup. At home, I don't notice dirty walls anymore unless we are painting a room – then every dirty wall needing paint stands out. I don't even notice that our 11year old carpet looks pretty bad in some places unless I intentionally look at it through the eyes of someone coming to buy our house. Churches need to look at their facilities through the eyes of those who are looking for a church to attend, serve in, give to, and have their children married in. Facilities matter.
- The leaders of a church need to be the ones who speak for the first-time guests because they likely won't give feedback – even if we ask for it. We need to look at our facilities through the eyes of visitors. We need to listen to our music – its excellence and how easy it is to learn through the perspective of those who are new. I want to make sure the preaching is challenging, understandable, and interesting – even if they disagree with what I say.
- There are some things that loyal customers are willing to overlook that a new customer may not be willing to overlook. In church, this might be the lady with the really terrible vibrato in her voice that no one really enjoys listening to but she's been doing it for so long and it would hurt her feelings if we don't ask her to sing – so the regulars don't really mind it. Out of love, they let her keep singing, ten years beyond when she should have retired from solos. The impact of that on the new visitor who is not mature in Christ is not positive.
- Old and run down might work well for diners (my daughters prefer one in town), but I don't think it works well for churches. Diners have a nation-wide reputation for being old, run-down, but great prices and great food. Old, run-down yet effective diners are common. Ugly, smelly yet effective churches are not.
One final thought – just because something would make us more popular and make it more comfortable for new people doesn't mean we should do it. In no way am I espousing that theory. The Gospel will always offend. 75 minute services will be too long for most unbelievers. Me preaching for 45 minutes isn't affective with lost people unless God is drawing them. Speaking out about issues of biblical truth and morality will turn people away quickly. We are okay with all of those things. In no way am I applying generic ketchup to truth and the Gospel. But I think it should apply to almost everything else.
Finally, I appreciate those who have sent me notes pointing out some generic ketchups we still have at Northridge. All of them (three so far) have been great to think through! Thanks!