A couple of weeks ago our kids were out of school for spring break. Because we’re the type of parents who prefer to show our love by shoving a bucket of trans fats in their hands and paying lots of money to sit in a dark room, we decided to take children #2 and 3 to see The Croods.

(Side note: I  highly recommend this movie, mainly because Nicholas Cage is a much better animated actor when you don’t have to look at his pained facial expressions. And the toddler was strangely familiar…)

But I digress. Someone had given us a Fandango gift card, so I called a local theater to make sure we could use it there. This was the convo:

ME: Um, yes. I was wondering. Do you take Fandango gift cards?

NON HELPFUL LOCAL MOVIE THEATER CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: Yeah.

ME: Uh, okay. And were you also hired exclusively on your ability to mumble and give one word answers? (I didn’t say that. But I wanted to. Oh, I wanted to.)

So off we went to the theater, where I asked for four tickets and handed the lady behind the window the gift card. As you might have guessed, there was a problem:

NON HELPFUL LOCAL MOVIE THEATER CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: Uh, we don’t take these.

ME: Well actually, I just called, and someone (who sounded amazingly like you) told me that I could.

NON HELPFUL LOCAL MOVIE THEATER CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: [quick staff meeting with manager] Yeah, we take ’em for the concession stand, but not the tickets. You hafta order the tickets online using the card, then bring in your confirmation number and we’ll give you the tickets.

ME: [Yosemite Sam style cuss words]

So in order to use my gift card, I had to step away from the window, pull out my phone, open the Fandango app, locate the theater, order the tickets, scratch off the little silvery cancer-causing agent on the back of the card, tap in the 742 digit Fandango number, realize that I used up all of the value on the $25 card, pull out the other $25 card (I have a generous friend), get more silvery asbestos under my fingernail, tap in another 14,221 digits / letters / incomprehensible symbols, enter my email information, hit send, wait on the email confirmation to pop back, present my phone with the confirmation number to Non Helpful Local Movie Theater Customer Service Rep, who proceeds to tell me that The Croods was no longer playing in that particular theater, since six months had passed since I first walked up to the window, and my children were also significantly older and my wife had starved to death waiting on her popcorn.

Now let me ask you this question: if you’re a Local Movie Theater Customer Service Rep and someone calls in asking whether you take Fandango gift cards, do you (a) assume that they want to use said gift card to buy tickets (WHICH GETS YOU INTO THE LOBBY) or (b) use them at the concession stand, or (c) all of the above?

Here’s the issue: Non Helpful Local Movie Theater Customer Service Rep answered my question. She even answered my question correctly. But she bombed my experience by failing to answer the very obvious question that I didn’t know to ask. Experience should’ve told her that if someone asks about gift cards, they want to use those gift cards to buy tickets. But because she had to use all of the Spring Break energy she had to grunt out a “Yeah,” she missed the chance to wow me.

And we do the same thing in our churches.

When asked “What kind of church are you?” we give answers that line up with denominational preference, but fail to capture the spirit of the congregation and culture within the community.

When asked “What do you have for my kids?” we say we have childcare, but fail to talk about how they have their own environment custom designed to help them become disciples of Jesus.

When asked “How do I get to know people?” we might think to mention small groups, but fail to talk about why circles are better than rows, the life change we’ve experienced, and make a personal invitation to join our group this week.

You see, outsiders who attend our churches don’t always know the questions they’re “supposed” to ask, so it’s our job to fill in the blanks. It’s our job to answer the questions they’re not asking. It’s our job to make their search easier.

What are some other areas where we fail to answer what they’re not asking? Comment below.

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