The other day I commented on how amazed I was at the "experience" the American Girl store has created which in turn has given them great success. The goods they provide are decent in quality, but they don't reflect a quality that in my opinion justifies the price. So why are they so popular... I believe it's the experience you get from the moment you pull up to the store.
With this in mind, I couldn't help asking myself what does this mean for the local church? Now I've been around the block enough to know that the word "experience" can cause some to shudder when attached to the local church as we are firmly rooted in the truth of God's Word, but why don't we take more seriously our need to provide people with a "positive experience" when engaging with the Body of Christ. If we truly believe that we hold the most important message in this world, why not do our very best to create an environment whereby we can speak this truth into as many lives as possible?
Is it possible to create an environment and experience that moves people to want to hear/see/experience more even though some of the truth is hard to hear? I as a dad was willing to hear/see/experience an expensive (painful event) in order to live the American Girl experience with my daughter. I wonder if people would be more willing to sit/listen/dialogue about the reality of their sin and hopelessness with those who belong to Christ if we provided an environment/experience that invited them to do so even if it gets uncomfortable for them?
I recognize a post like this can ruffle many feathers and it is something I'm still wrestling with, but I am growing more convinced then ever that the church must continual evaluate its methodology of "doing" church. We must provide those searching for more an opportunity to experience the joy and hope that comes when one has trusted Christ as their Savior. If all the church ever presents to a lost and dying world is a miserable, poor experience then we will leave many looking to the American Girl experiences of life to provide temporary hope and joy which unfortunately only masks the painful realities of sin.
I'm just beginning to read a book entitled "Word of Mouth Marketing" and I'm guessing that those within the church would be happy to tell others about Jesus (word of mouth marketing) if their experience with a church engages them on a level that moves them to want more. The good news is that when people want more we have the Word of God that feeds and satisfies the innermost part of a human being on the most deepest and intimate of levels. This is why I believe we need to create and provide people with positive church experiences.