Lobby Tests and Fabric Stores

Maybe I’ve been to your church. Maybe not, but I’ve visited a lot of churches – and I usually try to visit those that are supposed to be growing and doing exciting things, or churches that are very new. So if your church is supposed to be growing, doing exciting things, or is new, maybe I’ve been to your church. If so, here’s what I did …

Whenever I go to a church I do my “lobby test.” I walk around wide-eyed and gawking like an amazed tourist at Disney Land. I walk up to people and say, “Wow, this church is amazing. Do you go here?” When the person proudly answers in the affirmative, I ask, “That’s cool! How long have you attended this church?” After they answer, I ask, “What church did you go to before this one?”

That question was the whole point. I want to find out: Was this person regularly attending a church before attending this church?

The answers are absolutely depressing. In one church I asked forty-two people and every one of them quickly identified their previous church. In every church where I’ve done this a huge majority of the people had come from other churches. And, remember, I only do this in churches that are growing, exciting, new, cool.

Often after they tell me the church they used to attend I ask one more question. I say something like, “Oh. Well this church you’re attending now seems awesome. If you weren’t going here, would you go to that last church, or if not, what church would you go to?” At this point they’re looking at me a little weird, because I’m asking more questions than Judge Ito at the O.J. trial, but still they answer. And, in almost every case, they name a church. Not the church they used to attend; they name a different church they would attend if they stopped going to their current church.

Okay, so you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m thinking that if you reach a truly lost person: (1) They wouldn’t be able to tell you what church they were attending, because they weren’t, and (2) They wouldn’t be able to name what other church they would attend. (Like, if for some reason you found me at a fabric store, and asked me which fabric store I would go to if not this one, I would say, “How the crap should I know? I don’t go to fabric stores. It’s weird that I’m even in this one.” If I quickly told you the other fabric store alternatives, you would have to assume that my being in this fabric store was not that surprising).

Am I wrong?

And if I’m right, isn’t this just more evidence that, as I said in my first post: “We absolutely suck at reaching people who are far from God. There are lots of things our churches do well, but if we’re being honest, leading lost people to Jesus is not one of them.” (I have decided to make it a habit to quote myself. Someone has to quote me!)

So enough bad news, I’m even making myself miserable. Next time I’ll start telling you a little about me, and about my church, and sharing some of what we’ve learned about not sucking at reaching people who are far from God.

Until then … blog naked!

– Featured on newchurches.com