A few years ago I spent some time in a particular coffee shop. I loved the ambiance of the place. It’s a mom and pop shop with a beautiful stone interior… couches for those who want to sit and chat, tables and chairs for those of us who are here to work and drink hot stuff, and the place is seldom crowded. I think I’m beginning to understand why she’s not crowded… mediocrity.
There were five customers in the place when I ordered a sandwich. The girl at the counter wanted to be certain that I knew there was one order before mine so I might have a bit of a wait. I ordered chicken salad… I still wonder what it was and I’m certain the mystery meat came from a can. When I couldn’t find a napkin I was told, “They’re supposed to be over there.” The guy did point. I guess I should’ve been more grateful. When I went to the men’s room, after washing my hands I tried the hand towel dispenser… it didn’t work.
I wonder… How often do first-timers come to church and never return due to mediocrity. You know what I mean… the building is kinda clean but not really, the guy changing the lyrics on the screen during worship is goofing off so he’s always a split second behind, the sound person makes the band so loud that worshipers can almost hear the lyrics and the melody being sung but not quite. When first time guests drop their newborn off in the nursery they’re given a number and told, “You can’t get your kid back unless you come back with that number!” and the person that made the declaration is more like “the nursery nazi” than a joyful Christ-follower.
Like the coffee shop I was in… church can ALMOST be a great place to be. And when it is only ALMOST its MEDIOCRITY may keep people from coming back.
By the way… I think I spent money and time at that coffee shop one too many times and that one stop was my first stop.
Some would say that my title is wrong, that we ACCEPT mediocrity, we don’t CHOOSE it. The truth… when church leaders realize something is only halfway right and they don’t do what is necessary to move beyond mediocre, it feels to first timers like the church has CHOSEN mediocrity and is perfectly happy with it.