Stories win our business.
Marketing messages, billboards, websites and logos are safe bets. They are all things we can control. Think about car commercials. Car manufacturers show their premium models driving through pristine roadways or performing driving maneuvers, only properly executed by professionals under “controlled” circumstances. In part, they do this out of necessity. It’s nearly impossible to capture the experience from the five or so years a real person would own the car. Furthermore, all the fill-ups, oil changes, repair bills, morning commutes, and spring car cleanings aren’t very glamorous. Yet these experiences represent and tell the truest story about the car. For most of us, when we are looking for a new car, it is precisely these stories that win our business.
Think about it: “I only need to fill it up every two weeks.” “I’ve owned that car for 6 years and have never had to take it into the shop.” “It requires a bunch of special parts and costs a fortune to repair.” “I can fit my whole family in it and have room to spare.” “It didn’t have a bit of trouble driving through that foot of snow we had last year.” “It was a blast to drive down to the beach this summer!”
These are the stories we hear from friends, family and acquaintances that influence our car buying decision the most. A few may buy because of that billboard on Route 95, but the vast majority rely on stories from real people, who have owned the car for years. Their stories are the ones that bring us to the dealership for a test-drive.
Faith is the same way.
Why? Because it isn’t the feature sets, the trim color, or the MPG. It’s the experience from people who have made that car and that brand a part of their life. It’s the effect it has had on them and how it has changed their life for better or worse. Faith is the same way. It isn’t the building, programs, service times, scripture verses, or sermons that bring people to faith and into our churches on Sunday morning. I firmly believe it is the stories that happen because of our faith and church. These stories reflect the power of faith and the blessing of the church in a way a billboard or website never will. As we look at how we can bring more people into our churches and more people to faith, we must start with our stories. They are the evidence that faith matters.
Therefore, let’s quit it with the marketing messages and fantasized faith experience and shine a bright light on the stories of real people who are transformed and renewed daily because of their faith and church community.
Photo Compliments of Phil Gyford.