Keep the Customer Satisfied

by Stan Mitchell
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6, ESV).
Harold left the church meeting depressed. He couldn’t put a finger on it, but something in the tone and topic of the meeting bothered him. As he pulled his car into traffic, his mind went over the things that had been said.
“We’ll lose our kids,” a father of teenagers declared, “unless we make church fun!”
“We won’t reach our community unless we find activities that meet their needs,” another declared.
Why was it, Harold wondered, that the word “needs” always came out sounding like “wants”?
A third had spoken of songs: “It’s about time,” he had said, “we got to sing the hymns that we want!”
Fine, Harold thought, but there’s something missing here. Still another held up a bestselling book on “church growth,” and spoke of how church growth and business principles were really one and the same.
“Identify and meet the needs of the customer,” he concluded triumphantly, “and your church will grow.”
Another added, “Why don’t we take a community poll, and find out what it wants?” That brought about a large number of “amens,” and that bothered Harold, too.
He thought about the phrase, “The customer is always right.” Good business principle, he thought, but was the customer always right? Often he was wrong, and the business simply accommodated his wishes. So did church work all boil down to the “customer’s” wishes?
Did church amount to something so simple as the wishes of the customer, the members, the young, the old? Or was there something bigger than them all? Suddenly the thing that had been bothering him all along came to him.
What about what God wants? Why don’t we poll God, identify his wishes, and run a church that way? No, he thought sardonically, that would probably never work …

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