Here’s Your Guarantee

I’ve made it a policy to never read or consider anonymous notes dropped in the offering plate and directed toward me.  They’ll show up every now and again, informing me on what I’m doing wrong regarding song selection, sound levels, what I wear, etc.  I welcome critique if it comes in the form of a conversation where both participants are willing to listen and learn, but these nasty little notes are textual molotov cocktails thrown into my house by cowards who want to score easy points with their buddies:  “Check that out!  I showed those pastors a thing or two!”  They don’t deserve the 30 seconds of my time it takes to scan the thing and throw it away, much less the hours I’ll spend constructing a response that I can never deliver.

But Tuesday one of these buggers made its way into the stack of stuff we consider during our staff meetings.  Since staff meeting time is not mine anyway (2 1/2 hours talking about issues with an occasional decision thrown in), I didn’t mind the imposition so much.  Here’s what it said:

If we bring new people to church, what guarantees that anyone will ever reach out to them and befriend them beyond Sunday morning?  (unless, of course, they are in college?)

It hit me as I read it–why not use the blogoshpere to respond to these things?  Now I can actually deliver responses (though I doubt that these people have discovered blogs yet, or even google, or even email).

So, here are my guarantees for the author of this little ditty:

  1. I guarantee that there is no guarantee that college kids will find friends at _______.
  2. I guarantee that you are not actually making plans to bring a new friend to church.  I sincerely doubt you even have friends outside of church.
  3. I guarantee that, so long as ________ maintains the normal Baptist ministry pace (Sunday school plus Sunday worship plus Sunday night service plus Wednesday morning Bible Study Fellowship plus Wednesday evening service plus Thursday evening ladies’ bible study plus Friday morning men’s bible study plus…), our members will remain unable to incorporate new people into their lives.  The time remaining to them after their church obligations will be spent sleeping or trying to get to know their own families.
  4. I guarantee that, so long as the expectation remains that the pastors are to take the visitors to lunch and make the hospital visits and ignore their own families and hearts so that we can guarantee that your hypothetical friend will have a buddy, the pastoral leadership of ________ will either continually disappoint you or shipwreck their own lives and ministry.
  5. I guarantee that, if you actually were to bring someone to church and were committed to walking with him or her in authentic relationship, introducing him or her to your other authentic relationships within the church, your friend will find his or her place within ________.  More importantly, your friend would find his or her place within your life. 

You can take these to the bank!


3 Responses to “Here’s Your Guarantee”

  1. 1 Ryan McBride March 29, 2007 at 9:12 am

    I came across your blog about a week ago and found it interesting that a pastor had a blog that was different from the beliefs of the church that he serves on. I understand that pastors in general will have different views on doctrine. Your views are not only different but contrary to the very Baptist faith and message that your church, I assume, serves under. Your post today about the criticism from members of your church and how you wish they would come to you rather then be “cowards” is eerily similar to the very intent of your blog. You are writing about disagreements you have with the leadership of your church and “cowardly,” if I may use your own words, blogging about it. Have you ever talked with the senior pastor about your distaste for Baptist doctrine? Or are you doing the very thing you wish members of your church would not do to you?

  2. 2 byron March 29, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Hey Ryan–I’m glad you found me! Please continue to comment.

    The pastoral staff team at ________ understands that I do not consider myself a “Baptist” in the conventional sense, and that I bring a very different and welcome perspective to the decision-making table. They really do know where I stand, and in many places (not all) stand with me. It says tons about the quality of the team that they would allow such diversity into the room with them.

    We disagree and still we lead together as a unified team. It’s not just possible–it’s absolutely necessary.

    My argument is not so much with Baptist doctrine as it is with the presumption that Baptist doctrine is unquestionably superior to all other doctines. Questioning a culture’s presumptions is one of the most important tasks of a leader, because it is presumptions (and the practices that follow them) that keep culture and systems stagnant, leading to death.

    Questioning presumptions is the intent of the blog. I do it within the culture at _______ where I have opportunity. I do it here because I have many friends in other churches who need to know that it can be done (and must be done) where they are. There is no hiding, no second face, no cowardice.

  3. 3 amy March 29, 2007 at 7:04 pm

    Here is my two cent’s worth on the matter. My question to the writer of the note would be “what are you doing to reach out to new people?” Why would the writer of the note be so presumptious to assume that it is someone’s responsibility to reach out? What are congregations there for, to warm a pew?

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