If someone is looking for a church, she will drive by your facility and in about three seconds know whether or not it might be a fit. If she actually shows up, she will determine in about another three seconds whether or not to return – before meeting a greeter, hearing a song, or listening to a word of a sermon.
This “three second principle” is rooted in our understanding of the brain’s limbic system, which determines instantly what sensory inputs will be accepted or rejected. The limbic system is the center of emotion.
While the left and right brains represent our conscious thought processes, the limbic system determines which messages will get to our subconscious and actually determine our initial actions.
People often make decisions about which church to attend based on these initial imprints. We take in the visual clues and instantly determine the fit between our internal code and the church’s code. This happens on the level of intuition.
People will determine whether or not to attend your church based on their intuitive response to your church’s code. Even before they “think” about which church to attend, the decision has already been made.
Fact is, we make most of the major decisions in our life mostly by intuition. Whom to vote for, what car to buy, whom to marry…we THINK we are carrying on long, logic-driven and reality-based internal debates.
But, in fact, we are recognizing – at a level deep inside of our personalities – when something or someone resonates with our personal code.
People aren’t deciding whether or not to attend your church primarily based on theology, denominational distinctives, worship style, or ministry menu. Even when they think they are.
They are deciding whether or not their code matches yours.
Your code is who you are deep down when you are most true to yourself.
Your church’s code is the essence of what it was meant to be.
You can’t change your code – you can only recognize it and define it and work to honor it.
When you try to change people – insiders and outsiders alike – know something is wrong and, at the end of the day, will be repulsed more than attracted.
That’s why knowing and championing your church’s code is about the most important thing you can do as a leader.
So, do you know your code?