A couple of weeks ago, I found myself walking into one of the large pharmacy chains that seems to be on just about every corner (in my neck of the woods anyway) and I was greeted with a warm and friendly "hello" not just from one person, but two at the same time! At first I thought that it was strange and then I realized that that particular day was their Grand Opening. They were all about making a good first impression when a new customer entered the store. Sounds alright by me. Anyway, only about two weeks later, I found myself back at the same store looking for some other odds and ends. When I walked through the door this time, however, nobody greeted me. In fact, I was the first one to say "hello" as I walked by the manager who was more interested in loading the shelves with product than to help me find what I was searching for.
I say all of this because the church acts this way too. When a church is trying to attract "customers" in its early stages of growth, their all about reaching out. Their all about doing things to bring new people into the church. In fact, that is often their primary focus. However, over time, we begin to move into maintenance mode where church becomes all about "us" as opposed to "them." The newness has worn off and our focus so easily shifts from the outside to the inside. In light of this, it would seem like a good idea for the church to always operate like it's our Grand Opening. Then, perhaps, church would be gaining customers rather than losing them.