Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter from Sandy & Stan

After preaching on encouragement on Sunday, I received this very discouraging letter in the mail on Monday. . . .

Dear Pastor,

My husband and I visited your church two weeks ago. We were disappointed.
Your focus was in reaching out and loving one another especially new people. No one even spoke to us let alone reached out and loved us.

The usher seated us next to a "doctor" like I was supposed to be impressed!!?? He took notes BUT never greeted us at any time. Some kind of love! This is very common in churches today. I experience this all the time. So, if people aren't going to love one another-then stop talking about it.

We now attend a 20% friendly church but no one goes beyond a handshake. You have 1,000 members so you may not need to grow, so stop talking about loving one another unless you demonstrate it.

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.
Love, Sandy & Stan

Did these folks come in with a chip on their shoulder? Maybe.

Would their experience have been different if they would have come in assuming the best and actively engaging themselves? Probably.

But the fact remains, we didn't overcome their preconceived notions and chip. We didn't win them over. We let them get away without a warm GraceSLO welcome.

No address or other contact info, no last names, no way to reach out and try and connect.

Sad. I'm bummed.


andy gibson said...

If you wanna make an omelet, you'll have to crack some eggs.

Janice Phillips said...

As a member of the Welcome Team, I know and see on a regular basis the people of Grace reach out to both new people and the regulars. As a regular Grace attender, I see people greeting un-known faces almost every week. Recently I walked across the aisle to meet someone I didn't recognize and they were just visiting the area for their 30th wedding anniv and wanted a recommendation for a lunch date. This letter is SAD and a wake up call. Sure we can always be more friendly, but Proverbs is also clear: if you want friends, you have to be friendly. It's a 2-way street. Further, what ever happened to assuming the best? Maybe that doctor who just took notes the whole time had just worked all night and it was all he could do to just be there in the service? Guest or regular Grace "member," we need to be others focused. Let's focus on the work of God's grace in our lives instead of all the failings. Let's encourage one another to be better about demonstrating our love for one another but not get too down from just one letter. I'm sorry for Sandy and Stan but I'm stoked about what God is doing at Grace! Phil 1:6, baby!

Mama Mote said...

If I didn't know better, I feel like I know these people. But, yeah, it's a two way street. We have a long time at Hope Chapel to be able to engage with others...to the point that you don't want to stop talking and Pastor Zach has to get people back. But it's all good. Sad to hear and it's even sadder that there is no way to get in touch. They complained about no one talking or engaging them and then don't even give you a way to at least deal with it personally.

Anonymous said...

I believe it's characteristic of a born again believer to persevere in fellowship. My wife and I too have felt this cold sort of feeling from people at Grace. But we are convinced that we too have made others feel the same thing from time to time. It's sinful no doubt. We are all a work in progress. So we look to Christ Jesus who died in the place of His people. He loves them and has caused us, through the Person of the Holy Spirit, to love them too - in spite of their sin and how they can make us feel. GRACE!

It is also absolutely characteristic of a non-believer to be ultimately void of grace towards God's people. They will often take on the characteristics of their father the Devil - He is the "accuser of our brothers." Rev 12:10

On one hand we need to be reminded that, "by this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 1 Jn 3:16 This is what I'm taking away from the short note that Sandy left you.

But verse 15 says, "everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” No one knows the state of this lady’s soul but God alone.

Pastor Tim - don't get down. If you react to every person’s opinion who walks through the door – you're going to be a sad amd bummed most of the time. Set you eyes on Christ! And shepherd us in the Way and let God worry about how He's going to make His church into the likeness of His dear Son.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for your Good word to Pastor about not being bummed. I, also, need to hear what you wrote! STILL it hurts me to know that people came in need to Grace-SLO and left with pain. NEEDS are important even if they have a responsibility to be friendly. It’s also possible that Sandy & Stan were friendly. I don’t know. What I do know is that we all NEED to be Welcomed.

Unmet needs HURT. I know. When I’m needy, living up to my responsibility at best is challenging. That’s when GRACE enters in!!! I’m deeply Grateful to JESUS for meeting my need. PTL for “GRACE that is Greater than all my sin!!!”

HE lived the Life I could not. Additionally, JESUS sent people into my Life with HIS GRACE to meet my Needs. Literally, I would be dead without this Abundant GRACE. First I’d be physically dead and also spiritually dead!

Thank you, JANICE, for your work on the Welcome Team. Thanks also to ALL who serve greeting newcomers and visitors! The way the Welcome Team greets me every Sunday is a true blessing!!! We all need GRACE. Thanks a 1,000,000!!! The Welcome Team is essential, even for us regulars.

However, I suspect that JESUS considers us ALL a part of HIS Welcome Team! Our name “GRACE Church” inspires me to exemplify HIS GRACE. And yet I know I can “excel all the more” in greeting others! My prayer is to become more like those folks JESUS used to meet my needs. I want to be one who offers to others HIS “GRACE that is Greater.”


Anonymous said...

If you look for people after the service who are carrying the 'visitor' bags then you have a great opportunity to greet someone new. I tried that yesterday and chatted with a couple who had been there for only a month.