If you've driven across America much, you've probably seen a sign sometime for Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. They advertise all over the country. I was in Singapore and I saw an arrow pointing west - it said something like "Wall Drug Store 10,000 miles." This once little drug store in an unknown town has grown into a major tourist attraction - some days they'll draw 20,000 people! But it wasn't always that way. In 1931 a young pharmacist and his wife bought the drug store in Wall, this dusty little town on the edge of the Badlands. And for five years, they barely eked out a living. On the verge of giving up, the druggist's wife had an idea. Because of the new Mt. Rushmore attraction, lots of cars were going by - but they weren't stopping. Her idea? Advertise the one thing those travelers needed after driving across that hot prairie - ice water. They put out signs for free ice water, the people began to stop, and the rest is history. Here's what that couple said looking back over the years at the amazing things that had happened - no matter where you live, you can succeed because wherever you are, you can reach out to other people with something they need!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You about "Why Customers Aren't Coming."
People weren't coming when all the drug store did was sell their products. But people started pouring in when that store identified a need those people had and started doing something about it!
Jesus was doing that with people 2,000 years ago. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from John 4:6. Jesus was giving the Samaritans a chance to know Him as their Savior. It's going to be a hard sell. He's a Jew - they don't like Jews - and they're very into their religion. As He enters the area, Jesus meets a hardened Samaritan woman at a well where they both stop for a drink. Does He start talking about being the Savior right away? Or about eternal life?
"When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'" In verse 10 - "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.'"
Interesting. He starts by talking about a need she has - water. Not necessarily ice water in this case, but water. Verse 13 - Jesus says, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." Her reaction - "Sir, give me this water."
Jesus ends up talking about eternal life, the woman's endless search for love in relationships with men, He gently leads her to deal with the sin in those relationships. Eventually, this woman gets the whole village to come out and meet Jesus. How did it all start? By Jesus identifying a need that woman cared about - and using it to turn her attention to a Savior.
Question - how can there be so many Christians and so few lost people coming to Christ - or even coming to church or Christian meetings? Could it be that the customers aren't coming for the same reason they weren't coming to Wall Drug Store in those early years. We're selling our product - the good news of Jesus. But they drive right on by. They don't care about sin, so they don't care about what Jesus did for sin.
But would they start coming if we identified a need they feel - and started doing something about it? Helping them be a husband or wife or a parent, or with their children's needs, helping them with their singleness, offering services that would meet the needs of local teenagers. And in our personal witness, would more people listen if we took and interest in their felt needs, and then told them what a difference Jesus makes for our loneliness, our emptiness, our hurting relationships, the pain of our past. It's not about changing the Gospel at all, it's all about your starting point to get to that Gospel.
Jesus knew that closed hearts open when you start with a need that matters to people. When it comes to interesting people in the Savior who died for them, you really can succeed wherever you are - if you reach out to them with something they need!