Sunday, February 16, 2014

If Buc-ee's were a church, I'd be the first in line.

There's three kinds of churches.  Number one, we're trying real hard to be like Willow Creek.  Number two, we closely examine the direction of American culture, and then hone our biblical interpretations to fit the direction.  Finally, number three, we maintain law and order and we'll be damned if anybody will change that.  Yes, yes, I know that your church is a combination of all three, or maybe a number four, but hang with me for a minute.  Let me tell you about Buc-ee's.  

My family and I have lived all over America and we've been to every kind of gas station and convenience store.  The absolute worst are the ones in which the customer is made to feel like an inconvenience to the clerks as they status Facebook, drink energy drinks, and chit chat the night away.  The average ones try a little, but the filth of the gas pump area and the restrooms make the thought of trying one of those delicious Cheddar-Brats beyond reach.  As I said before, let me tell you about Buc-ee's.

Founded in 1982 in Lake Jackson, Texas, Buc-ee's prides itself on its "customer experience."  A lot of other establishments also do this, but the pride leaks like a sieve when the customer smells the bathroom or the clerk's breath.

I went to the Buc-ee's at Highway 288 and Plantation Drive in Lake Jackson today.  Let me tell you what I noticed.  The gas pumps are shined with Windex, the trash cans are clean and relatively empty.  The receipts come out of the pump station quickly, and the large and shiny car wash is next door.  When you go through the car wash, Buc-ee's offers a pre-wash area if you want to get out of your car and put a little soap on the rough spots and brush them down.  When you enter your car wash code, you are presented with the following..."Would you like a free vacuum token?" and "Would you like a free tire shine?"  Sure, gimme.   

The car wash attendant has a huge smile on his face like he actually wants you to be there.  He guides your left front tire to the right spot and reminds you of the requirement to have you car in neutral, foot off the brake and hands off the steering wheel.  The car wash is speedy and shines and dries your vehicle brilliantly.  There are at least 15 stations for vacuuming your car out and they all actually work!

Following this great time on a Sunday afternoon, I went inside.  Check this out, there was a Buc-ee's employee using Endust and a clean rag to shine the bottles of wine on the shelf.  The store was spotless and I was greeted as I came in. Buc-ee's sells Borden milk at $3.59 a gallon or approximately $2.00 a gallon less than Wal-Mart. There is a large deli that is staffed with three workers to fill your order quickly.  Buc-ee's sandwiches are delicious, I mean really delicious.  You will not use the term "gas station food" here.

Oh, before I forget to mention it, the store is swarming with customers.  All get in and out with little drama, because there are four, yes four, checkout areas.  

Now, let me ask YOU a question.  Does your church care for those who walk in off the street like Buc-ee's?  Hell no.  Why?  Because none of us really care that much.  We prize our much needed fellowship with people we've known for years much more highly that the recent transplant from another part of the country. We use the standard "greet those around you" time as another excuse to chat up our friends, while the guests that walk in are pretty much left to themselves.

We're checking our smart phones one last time before worship starts, or sometimes after worship starts, while the ones who are visiting wonder where the love of Christ actually is.  It's insane, says Bill Hybels, that a broken-hearted person can sit in a church service and not a single person could reach out to them.  Yet it happens every Sunday in churches all across America.  Why?  Because we don't care.  We don't  Even when we do care a little, it's not really that much

Now I love my church.  We are friendly, warm, and welcoming.  But not nearly enough.  If we were, our front doors would be swarming with people like       Buc-ee's.  We'd be planning new parking lots. 

We should be a LITTLE more like Buc-ee's.  We should be a LOT more like Christ.