Today we are bombarded with information. Our world is filled with advertisements, billboards, TV ads, radio spots, informational flyers, and newspapers all trying to sell us something or persuade us that a product is worthy of our dollar. However, even in this age of mass media and seemingly limitless information people still tend to trust one source of information more than any other; that source is simply “word of mouth.”
Rumors or “word of mouth” can carry positive information or negative. Unfortunately, people seem preconditioned to share negative aspects of their experiences. The White House Office of Consumer affairs finds that a dissatisfied customer shares their unpleasant experience with nine other people. A California market research firm shows that dissatisfied automobile customers tell their stories to twenty-two other people on average. A bad experience at a bank can be rehearsed in the ears of fifty-five other individuals according to one study.
I can only assume that someone who has a bad church experience will most likely have the same tendency to share his or her bad news in a similar way. However, a church that is thinking can use the power of rumor or “word of mouth” to their advantage. If you think about it, this was the primary way the early church grew; house to house and by word of mouth. If we were serious about telling others about Christ and our church the potential audience we could reach is staggering.
Researchers think the average person has a sphere of influence that includes about 250 people. This means that a city population of 62,500 could be reached by word of mouth in just two steps. If you tell the 250 people you know about your church and they tell the 250 people they know then in that simple process 62,500 will have heard. If we follow this formula to its conclusion the world does indeed become very small.
When we receive and treat guests in an exceptional fashion and genuinely display the love of Christ toward them, not only do we increase the possibility of them returning but we also increase the likelihood of others hearing positive things about our church. Loving people and doing things right have their own rewards; and part of that reward is a good testimony that is rehearsed in the ears of others.