A strange thing happened this past year when I bought my first Subaru. Well that actually isn’t the strange part.
The “strange” part started when I bought the car without doing much research. Yes, I did look up and find that their cars were reliable and had good resale but that was about all. It got “strange” sometime after I had bought the car and I came across the following profile of the typical Subaru owner.
They are typically people which are not showy by nature; they usually hold advanced degrees; they like to pay cash for their vehicles (300% more likely than other car buyers); they make a higher income, but value saving over spending (something I believe in strongly); they have a high regard for the environment (Subaru’s factory has a zero waste policy); they value reliability over looks (engineers run Subaru); they are not easily swayed by advertising (Subaru spends only a third as much per car on advertising as an average car company); and lastly, these buyers are more interested in buying experiences than owning things. When I bought the car I did not know how closely their typical customer profile was to my own.
You see, the company decided who they were going to be a long time ago, and then they built a company around those values. In the long history of the company, these values are what they have held to even when they were one of the smallest car companies in America; and they did not waiver from them just to become larger. In time, customers came to see these values and buy into their products.
There is a valuable lesson in there somewhere for us Christians.
Many times I hear people talking about evangelism in ways such as: we need to change with the times, become more seeker sensitive, and, do whatever it takes look inviting in order to reach the lost. I see where the desire comes from, but with a lack of focus I see that it often leads to nowhere but exhaustion.
Are we not called to be the “constant” in the storms of life, that which is not held hostage by the dictates of the culture? Are we not called to be set apart? To be an unusual people? To be those who beat to a different drum?
The Church of old stood on values- values which had been tried and found true even when they were out of favor with the majority.
What I see more and more often when visiting churches, is a willingness to “dumb down” the Faith in order to bring in the masses; but is this really what we were called to? What are our non-negotiable values? What are those things which give us the strength to be that “light in the darkness”?
The Romans used to have a saying that they would chant whenever their politicians got carried away in a speech- “acta non verbe” they would chant. It meant we want actions, not words. I think it is what the world is silently chanting at the Church today. Before they are going to show true dedication to the Faith, they want to know who we really are, and what is important to our faith.
It seems, like Subaru, when you are true to your values, you don’t have to worry all the time about how to reach people, they find you; even when they don’t know what they are specifically looking for beforehand.