I, as much as the next guy, love a good movie. Now I’ll be the first to admit there is a wealth of junk not worth watching out there, but every year a few gems still happen to be produced. My wife and I have never really devoured our together time with movie watching, but every now and then we are in the mood to watch a new (or old) flick. And where do we go, but to the friendly neighborhood Blockbuster Video*.
I learned a lesson the very first time I went to our local representation in Texas City, of the nationally recognized and acclaimed franchise, that has only been supported every time I have been back. It’s worth noting that it was only a few years ago that Blockbuster Video instituted a company-wide policy for greeting customers, and sticking to the theme of their name it was a greeting that was supposed to knock your socks off. When an employee heard that little electronic ding as you passed through the door they were supposed to divert all their attention to you and yell, “Hey, Welcome to Blockbuster Video!!!”, or any other fun, energetic, attention grabbing greeting they could offer. Well not only was that missing at my Blockbuster Video, but so was any other attention I could have ever hoped of getting from their employees.
At first it was no big deal. The greeting always seemed fake to me anyway, but when I went to the counter to check out, it was as if I was invisible. There were four employees in the store at the time. One was on the floor restocking movies and another was in a back room. Another one was behind the counter checking in movies, and a fourth employee was behind the counter on the phone with her back turned toward the registers. I stood there for about 30 seconds before I began to get agitated. You all know what I’m talking about. We’ve all had these frustrating experiences before, but this time it was really getting to me for some reason. The absolute lack of training, lack of common sense in regard to customer service, and lack of common decency towards a patron was becoming mind boggling to me.
It wasn’t like they didn’t know I was there. The two behind the counter had both looked at me, and you know the back room has a television monitor for the registers; so what was the deal? Despite my strong urge to say something I decided to turn it into a personal experiment for personal experience. I wanted to know how long they were going to make me not important. The answer is over five minutes. For over five minutes I; the guy who helps pay their pay checks, the guy who the company says is “important” and “valuable” to them, the guy who chose to give my business to them versus their competitors, was nothing more to them than a life-size cardboard stand up cartoon character. And if you think that’s absurd, then let’s think about how we greet visitors, and our brethren, that come to church.
If you greet visitors or members at all, do you greet them like they are important, or is it a simple smile or nod (although that is better than nothing)? Do you take the time to introduce yourself to visitors and try to get to know them? Do you show up early to offer visitors or members a true blockbuster greeting at the door, or do you leave that up to the “other guy behind the counter”? Do you rush out the door, or do you stick around to talk to your brethren and let them know how important they are to you? Do you take time to build relationships with brethren and with visitors? Those are the places we like to visit most aren’t they: the restaurant where the waiter knows our order, the bank where the teller knows our name, or the neighborhood gas station where the attendant gives you a discount on your coffee because you always compliment his good work? Do you greet the man doing announcements when he greets you, or the preacher when he greets you at the beginning of his lesson, or the teacher at the beginning of a class? Basically, do you take the time to express true New Testament Christianity when it comes to greeting? It’s easy for us to criticize the person at Blockbuster Video, or the Gas Station attendant, or any other service employee that we have to wait on that should be waiting on us. But aren’t we, as Christians, supposed to be servants as well? Aren’t we supposed to be serving our brethren and those in need of the gospel truth? Shouldn’t we be thrilled that visitors chose to meet with us?
Don’t just say hello to visitors, invite them to sit with your family. Don’t just say “have a nice trip”, take the time to build a relationship with them. Don’t just leave people sitting alone on a back pew while person after person walks by, introduce other brethren to them. Don’t just greet your best friends at church; make (not take) the time to greet everyone possible. Don’t just leave door greeting up to the preacher, make a welcoming line. Don’t forget to greet the visitors, give them a greeting they won’t forget. Don’t just leave follow up to “visitation” groups, be proactive if you made a special connection with a visitor. Don’t just make it the elders, or deacons, or their wives’ responsibility because it’s not just theirs, it’s yours.
We are disciples of truth. We appeal to biblical authority for what we do, and do not do. We preach baptism for salvation because that’s what the Bible teaches. We preach Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week because that’s what we have example to do. How hypocritical is it of us then, if we obey such things as these but overlook the common and overwhelming command and example to GREET OUR BRETHREN?!?!?!
Rom 16:1,3,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,21,22,23, 1 Cor. 16:17,19, 20, 2 Cor. 13:12,13, Eph 6:21-23, Phil. 4:21, Col. 4:10,12,14,15, 1 Thess. 5:26, 2 Tim. 4:19, 21, Titus 3:15, Phil. 23, 25, Heb.13:24, 1 Pt. 5:13&14, 2 Jn. 13, 3 Jn. 5, 14, and many other examples in the book of Acts and other epistles.
(I originally wrote this article in December of 2004 when I was a minister in Texas City. Interesting Note: Blockbuster has since filed for Bankruptcy.)
*For the younger reading audience: Movies used to not be available over video streaming services like Netflix. You had to have an actual physical video tape or DVD to put in a machine. Blockbuster was a video rental chain that rented movies cheaper than buying them. It was like Redbox, but in a storefront.