What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?

What Do You See Outside YOUR Open Window Today?
Remember: "When God closes a door, He always opens a window!" You never know what might be out there waiting for you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Open Letter to Church X

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews 10:24-25

Dear Church "X";

I visited your church today.  Actually, I have visited your church several times.  We've gone back because we felt drawn by the music, the pastor's sermons, and because we were hoping we'd feel welcome there.
Now don't get me wrong.  The people were smiling, they seemed happy.  The signs of growth and action are apparent. There were three people baptized today, and others taken into membership.  Several went forward for prayer for physical needs as well as being drawn by the Spirit to pray.  You are planning a big evangelistic outreach for your community in the near future.  Good things are happening.  I was blessed by the music as well as the message today.  But I still felt like a stranger.

Maybe my expectations were too high. I'm not sure just what I was hoping for...but I think what was missing was a "connection" with the people.  More than just a handshake and a "hello".  More than just a look that said, "I don't know you"...perhaps a smiling face that actually introduced himself/herself to me and asked my name.  What about an actual invitation to come to the women's group, or a Sunday School class, or another fellowship gathering of some kind?  How about someone asking more about us...where we live, what do we do?

If this was the only time this had happened I would think it was just that everyone was busy and excited to see their own friends and family, and that it was a big crowd and people just couldn't possibly know who was new and who wasn't.  And, because my husband and I have spent over 30 years in the ministry, I know the best way for us to get acquainted is to attend more functions of the church...a Sunday School Class, Sunday night services, Wednesday night services, etc.   But when you go several times and even get there early to try and have an opportunity to meet people and they still just pass you by, you begin to feel invisible.

However, Church "X" is doing a lot of things right, so I can't be too harsh.  At least they are better than Church "Y" that we visited some time ago, and one of the Deacons of the church definitely noticed that we were new there.  He even went out of his way to come shake our hands before the service, and then he said, "I guess you can see that we have a lot of troubles here."  Well, up until that point we hadn't really had a chance to notice...we had only been there a couple of times before that and things seemed okay to us.  But that was the day their pastor actually announced his resignation, so I guess Mr. Deacon was correct.  We didn't feel too anxious to go back. I wonder why?

We wonder why the Church is in trouble today.  I've sat in many a church meeting where the people would scratch their heads and wonder why they couldn't attract new people.  Having been in the position of Pastor and Wife, we had always been welcomed right in, introduced, catered to, given the red carpet treatment.  But when the shoe was on the other foot and we were just strangers looking for a church home, we were ignored, looked over, smiled at perhaps, given a visitor's packet, and maybe a handshake...and that was it. Some churches went so far as to send us a letter thanking us for visiting.  One church in our area actually has a recorded phone message in which they call us and invite us to events...not too personal.  Not my idea of a "welcome invitation".

I will have to continue this another time.  But I want you to think about this...and maybe have some answers to share with me...or maybe you will just think about this and look for that new person next Sunday in your church service...and take the time to actually say hello and find out something about that new person.  Who knows? He or she could be your next best friend...or a person who really needs Jesus.  Or maybe an angel unaware...better think about that. 

"Let brotherly love continue.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels."...Hebrews 13:1-2

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