I spent a couple hours in IKEA recently. If you’re not familiar, it’s a massive size store of home furnishings that has become extremely popular in the larger cities where they have one. It’s very European and draws you in quickly with well-displayed, reasonably priced merchandise. Not everyone loves the place, but it’s obvious many do.
I took Cheryl and she was a serious shopper. We recently moved to our new home in Lexington, KY and Cheryl hoped to find some things to make the home more livable. I was simply the chauffeur, but began to see something in IKEA of which I think the church can learn. So I began to ask…
What could the church learn from IKEA?
You see, one of our goals is the get people to move from visitors to regular attenders to committed, growing disciples. From the worship gathering to discipleship programs, to serving to giving of their time and resources, we want to see them involved in every program of the church. Ideally, we want to reach people who know nothing about our church and may not even be interested to express interest in our message.
IKEA has figured out how to expose people to everything they sell. They’ve learned how to captivate people into their products, from entrance of the store, to the exit. I’m not necessarily an advocate for their products, but as far as exposing people to everything they sell, they seem to have a working system.
Here’s how they seem to do it:
Initial buzz created – People drive for miles to get to the nearest IKEA. When we arrived, people were outside taking pictures of their arrival.
How can the church get people so excited about visiting, before they ever get to our buildings?
Make it easy on first timers – IKEA’s system is simple. You walk in the door, they hand you a bag. You grab a shopping cart. Go. They’ve got these map displays throughout the store, or they’ve got some mini maps you can carry with you.
How can the church make it incredibly simple for first timers when they visit? (And what churches are doing the best job with this?)
Keep you interested along the way – IKEA’s simple, well-laid out displays go throughout the store. As soon as you would start to get bored, there will be something you haven’t seen before, some creative display, some great price, that captures your attention.
How many times have you been frustrated because someone came to church, got initially excited, then fizzled before you really felt they were being discipled? How can we keep people interested, excited, engaged and motivated throughout the discipleship process?
Easy-to-follow – IKEA constantly gives you directions so you know you’re not lost. Every step along the way, they have arrows telling you which way to go next. They have signage telling you where you are. They have products arranged in an understandable way.
Does this describe your church? Do people know what the next steps are in discipleship? Can they easily find their place in your current systems and structure?
Good products – IKEA products aren’t the most expensive. Admittedly they are cheaper goods. Granted I’m not warranting or even suggesting their merchandise. I’m simply making a point. But, the fact is they have products people obviously want.
Be honest, are the programs of your church engaging? Are they presented in a way that people would want to participate? I’m not talking about changing a message. I’m talking about presenting a message in a way that draws people in and motivates them to be a part of it. IKEA has figured out how to do that with their products. How can the church do this better?
No pressure – Associates of IKEA wear bright yellow shirts. They are easy to find and there if you need help, but no one bugs you either. There is a no pressure, free look, yet no one should ever feel they can’t find help. There’s always someone nearby easily identifiable.
Over the years I’ve often wondered if the church could benefit from customer service training. We need to know how to engage visitors in a way that makes them feel welcome, without them feeling overwhelmed. Obviously, IKEA has thought through this process and does it well. How can we learn from them in this area of how they do business, which would help us in ministry?
Something for everyone – IKEA sells toys, bedding, food, tools, and furniture. Admittedly, not everything was for me, but there were things for me. I would guess most everyone could find an area of interest.
Considering the diverse backgrounds within the church, are we considering what works for people who aren’t like us? Are we reaching people with varying backgrounds?
Have you ever been to IKEA? What do you think?