A few weeks ago I was walking into a gas station because I heard the pitiful screams of a candy bar asking to be rescued and then eaten. Just a few steps ahead of me was a woman in her early 50’s. As she got to the door she stopped, turned around, and with the biggest smile you’ve ever seen said, “I’ll bet you’re a gentleman!”
Of course, that was my signal to catch up to her and grab the door and let her go in, which I was happy to do. But that comment has stayed with me. Why in the world did she label me as a gentleman? Is it something she says to all the guys? Is she a bigger germophobe than I am and wanted somebody else to touch the funky gas station door handle? Was my deep south upbringing shining through and she just knew that I was a guy who says, “Yes ma’am,” “No sir,” and “Please pass the grits.”?
I know the truth: I’m not always a gentleman. I interrupt people when they’re talking. I believe a good burp should be shared. Sometimes I slurp my coffee. I don’t know why gentlemanly vibes were being spewed forth that particular day, but I know that this lady held that as an assumption.
She assumed that I was a gentleman, and therefore assumed I’d hold the door. She assumed I was a gentleman, and therefore assumed I’d be happy to serve her. She assumed I was a gentleman, and therefore assumed that I would accommodate her request with a smile rather than rolling my eyes and ignoring her.
The same things happen with guests at our churches. Every single Sunday, our guests hold assumptions. They assume we’re friendly or we’re cold. They assume we’re happy to see them come or glad to see them go. They assume they’ll be welcomed as family or shunned as a stranger. Every guest comes with assumptions.
Every single guest. Every single Sunday.
What assumptions do guests hold about your church? Are they the right assumptions? Do you constantly surprise and delight your guests by proving them wrong, or disappoint them by proving them right?
Look at your church through the eyes of your guests. What do they assume? What’s correct? What’s incorrect? And how can you make sure their assumptions are the right one?