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Sending the Wrong Message

May 16, 2012

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You may have seen this in the news a few weeks ago:

Fred Bennet was expanding his horizons. He decided that his restaurant needed to tap into a new market, so he began advertising that he would offer Thai food. He hired a Thai chef and asked him to come up with a new restaurant name to communicate its new identity and cuisine. The chef came up with a Thai phrase that meant “Welcome and See You Again.” Business was fine, although he only had a handful of Thai customers. Once his chef left, he hired a new chef that questioned the restaurant’s name. It turned out that the phrase did not mean “Welcome and See You Again.” It meant “Go Away and Don’t Come Back!” No wonder he didn’t have many Thai customers – would you want to visit a place that told you to go away?

I shared that story in a Wednesday Night devotional a few weeks ago, but the image still sticks with me. We talked about how, as a congregation, we could send the right message to guests. We have made an effort to improve the way our signs guide guests through our building and the way we reach out new people. It has been really encouraging the last few weeks to watch how so many people have been greeting guests and introducing them to other people. Of course, many have been doing that for years, but it always helps to have reminders.

I have thought about how this principle applies on a personal level as well. How many times have we wanted to send one message, but we ended up sending another? Here are a few examples that convict me and highlight ways I need to change:

  • We do something for someone else, and we want to communicate kindness, yet a deep sigh or frustrated facial expression communicates inconvenience instead.
  • We want people to worship with us, but our tendency to seek out and talk to the same people we see each week communicates that we aren’t really looking for guests.
  • We want to show people we love them, but an overwhelming concern to make sure a ministry program runs smoothly communicates that we are too busy to invest needed time in conversations and relationships.

When asked about the confusion over his sign, Fred Bennet said, “That’s why it pays to do research.” It was important to check and make sure he was sending the right message. We need to check ourselves to see what message we are sending, and do it often. It pays to do research.

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