We’re always making judgments.
Social scientists tell us that anytime we walk into a room of strangers we are asking ourselves, “Do I fit here?” and “Am I wanted here?”
Those questions have huge implications for churches. How do we help people feel wanted and appreciated? How do we make strategic decisions that let people know they can find a place in the church?
Recently, a Harvard professor, Amy Cuddy, has completed a study of how people size up other people. She concludes that people size us up (or we size them up) rather quickly. She also concluded that people use unexpected criteria for determining whether they want to do business or be friends with the people they meet.
Professor Huddy says that people quickly answer two questions when they first meet you: “Can I trust this person?” and “Can I respect this person?’ These two questions can be summed up as describing “warmth” and “competence.” While competence is usually seen as the most important of the two, Professor Huddy says it’s not the case. In fact, warmth or trustworthiness is the most important.
She puts it this way: “If someone you’re trying to influence doesn’t trust you, you’re not going to get vey far; in fact, you might even elicit suspicion because you come across as manipulative.”
This puts churches in a great position.
People want warmth, trustworthiness, and competence. Jesus has equipped the church in these areas. He calls on us to be kind, compassionate, loving, and forgiving. He told His disciples to let their yes be yes and their no be no. Above all else, He told us to love one another.
Jesus Himself demonstrated warmth and trust. He lifted up the broken and cared for those who had been trampled under foot.
If we are going to help bring our world to transformation, we must become like Christ and let His Spirit bring life-altering change to our lives.
For years I have prayed: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14). God wants to prepare us to affect people as we live genuine lives of concern for others and faithfulness toward God and our world.