On Monday afternoon, two staff members, a spouse (not mine) and I went to lunch at a local restaurant to celebrate a birthday in our group. We have been to this restaurant before and received lackluster service, but we wanted to have Italian food, so we tried it again. This should have been clue #1, but it wasn't.
However, the service at this restaurant (which will remain nameless) was again poor at best. The waiter who took our drink order was one of two waiters for the whole lunch shift and he was also waiting on a table of 15 in the back - so we paitently sipped our drinks and talked. We noticed that altho this was an Italian restaurant, the music playing in the dining room was a mix of country, pop, and classic rock - nothing even remotely Italian.
One member of our party had to hunt down the other waiter in order to get our food order taken and then it took another 25 minutes for our food to arrive at our table. We were just seconds from leaving prior to ordering, but decided to stay once we found someone to take our order. My food was hot, delicious, and reasonably priced, but it will be a long while before I go back there - because I didn't feel valued during my 60 minutes there.
It really is true that a guest's experience is all about the whole package - service, atmosphere, ambiance, friendliness, quality, etc. Without a conscious decision to make dining "an experience" that local restaurant has lost a customer who loves their cuisine.
What can the local church take from a bad trip to a local eatery? We have the best message in the whole world and if we do a lousy job of presenting that message - whether through unfriendly greeters, no parking spaces, or unclear directions - we fail people who matter to God and who need to know that God loves them.