People Are Leaving the Church – Part Twenty-seven

Let’s look at some practical ways to love people while practicing radical hospitality; hospitality that shows people that we genuinely love them.

1 John 4:7-8 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

We need to first realize that most of us underestimate the power of our surroundings. Much of our work to show people radical hospitality is done without anyone saying a word. People soak in their surroundings – and those surroundings create feelings. And, we can allow our surroundings to communicate “you are most welcome here.”

Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO of Starbucks, says that when setting out to create an atmosphere for selling coffee, his team researched the vibe people longed for – a comfortable “third place,” a place conducive to relationship building. Their research had nothing to do with the menu, prices, or where the coffee beans are grown.

“I see a deep sense of community,” Schultz says about the Starbucks environment. “We’ve intended, from day one, to really kind of build a third place between home and work. And really, I think at a time in America where people are hungry for human connection, we’re providing that.” And, it is not just America and Americans that are looking for that third place between home and work.

Churches take note. We need to be a comfortable place – a special place – for people to mingle and hang out. But, more than this, it needs to be a physical centre for real ministry.

Marshall McLuhan, a famed Canadian philosopher who was well known and respected back when I was taking my first degree in the 1960’s stated, “The medium is the message.” He understood that the WAY we communicate is more important than the things we actually say. In the case of the church environment, we should never underestimate the significance of ‘territory.’ We must have a territory that will foster the intimacy that personal relationships require.

Like it or not, the unchurched and the dechurched are never going to hear what we say if they are not comfortable with how we are saying it. Communication experts tell us that communicating with someone is made up of 7% content, 38% sound, and 55% look. Philip Graves states, “The environment is a massive influence on how we behave. Change the environment, ad you change how people perceive everything else.”

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