I want to post a series of thoughts on what I learned about how Vegas casinos attract and keep players coming back and how that can be translated to the church. So here goes...
Learning #1: Make it easy for people to get in the door and find what they are looking for.
Gamblers in Vegas are looking for one thing when they go to a casino...a place to spend their money in order to have a shot at making more money. Most gamblers look for a certain type of game - be it video poker, nickel slots, or the tables - and they don't want to have to look hard to find their game.
Casinos know this, so they make it very easy for gamblers to get inside and spend their money as quickly as possible. One example, Deb and I were walking down the Strip toward The Bellagio in order to take a look inside and see what all the hype was about. As we approached the block that the Bellagio sits on, we saw that we needed to go up an escalator in order to get to the same level that the main entrance doors were on. Once we ascended that escalator we noticed how far away from the door we really were from the casino doors. This was not a problem because the entire walkway from the street to the door of the casino was a "people mover" ala George Jetson. It took virtually no effort on our part to get from the street to the door of the casino - none! We both commented that this fact made getting into the doors to spend our money so easy.
Churches need to make it easier for people to get in our doors. Not so that they can give their hard-earned money to us, but so that they can get connected to Jesus. Not so that they can be impressed with our technology in worship, but so that they can see that the church is a place that welcomes them and actually wants them to spend some time there. We need to make the hurdles of attending church the lowest ones possible (if we even have hurdles at all). The time, place, or feel of our churches should be the smallest impediment to people walking thru our doors.
What kind of "people movers" does the church need to employ? How can we make the process of finding a place to get plugged in should be the easiest thing that guests can do at our churches. Guests should be able to walk into our clearly marked front doors (hopefully opened by waiting, attentive greeters) and find exactly what they are looking for. (Side note: There are no "people movers" taking people away from the doors of the casino...you have to want to walk out...and do it under your own power. More on this later.)
Are we doing all that we can to break down obstacles for people to find God in our churches? Are we losing their business before they even hear the music or sermon? Are they having to clear hurdles just to experience all the things we love about our worshiping community?