I had a friend who used to work for Walmart. He had a job that was somehow related to marketing, strategy attraction and other stuff. Every once in a while we would be hanging out and I would ask him about work.
“Mom doesn’t like most of my ideas,” he would say.
“Who is mom?” I would ask.
“Mom is mom.” he would say. I am sure he could see I was confused with the direction of this conversation. “Mom is the target customer. Mom is who we are consistently trying to reach out to and make more comfortable in our stores. Because if Mom is happy, Mom is buying more. So everything has to make it past the filter of Mom. Mom likes wider aisles. Mom likes less packaging. Mom likes better marked aisles. Mom likes more markings on those aisles. Mom likes the store arranged this way. Mom likes bigger carts. Everything has to make it past Mom.”
Mom was, of course, not a real person but a archetype for the target person for the stores. Mom was who we were trying to attract to the stores, make happy in the stores and bring back to the stores. It was all about getting this target archetype in, out and happy.
Many church vision conversations have a similar bend to them. Lately it has been Visitor. What will Visitor see when he comes to this church? How do we make sure that Visitor is comfortable here? What will Visitor think of this? What concessions should we make for Visitor? What are some things that make sense to us, but should be explained every week in case Visitor is here? What are the needs for Visitor in this region versus another region?
For small churches and church plants, this is important. Converting visitors into believing, attending and giving members is key. And that is never going to happen unless the visitor is comfortable or intrigued in their surroundings. If Visitor feels uncomfortable with the people around him he might have a hard time caring about the vision of your lead pastor. If your church meets in a gym without air conditioning and its 100 degrees, Visitor may have a hard time caring how much your band rocks.
Visitor needs to play an important part in most of the decisions you make.
On the other hand, there is overboard. There are just some places in the store where you have to throw up your hands and say, “I think Mom is irrelevant here.” Mother’s don’t tend to be the main purchasers of outdoor fishing supplies or automotive parts. Scripture tends to suggest that believers were meeting in houses for their primitive church services. If scripture suggests it was mostly believers, then there is a sense in which you can go overboard in planning for Visitor. There is a balance that must be struck, and I believe that balance is different for every church.