Thursday, February 25, 2016
Reasons to Drag Myself to Church Today, part 2: Church Stalker
I never know which of my blog posts will resonate with readers, but my “Reasons to Drag Myself to Church Today” (July 2012) post has always been among my most visited (It’s actually my second highest post ever). Here’s a continuation of it on a slightly different, more humorous, theme.
[This story is too funny not to share, though I doubt I can capture the utter absurdity of it.]
We are in the process of looking for a church closer to home, and visited a local Southern Baptist church (maybe 250-300 members). We talked to the youth leader about what’s available for our kids and she said she would mail out some info on upcoming events if we filled out a connect card. I don’t usually fill out those things on the first visit, not until we’ve had more than one visit and are seriously considering it, but I thought, “Sure, why not. What could happen?”
Well, the DAY AFTER we visited, right before we sat down to dinner, an older couple showed up at our door from this church. It’s about 25 degrees outside and they’re asking questions like, “so you’ve been to church before?” - questions that can never be adequately answered quickly or with any justice. Um, yes; I’ve got some experience with church. No, I’m not about to invite you in.
I was polite, but ended the conversation pretty quickly, mildly annoyed. I was willing to overlook this as we considered the church for a “fit” for our family. In the meantime, we visited several other churches in the area. This became a benchmark for me though - the churches that were not likely to visit us uninvited received higher “ratings.” I was on the lookout for “pressure levels.” How much pressure do they put on people to show up and make things happen?
Cue this past Monday night; two weeks have passed since that initial home visit and we haven’t been back. Not one, but TWO separate visits at our door over the course of an hour or so, one before dinner and one after. These were higher caliber visitors this time, leaders involved in the youth ministry. You see, they had already taken our kids’ information and put them into classes! Holy Frick! Monday must be psycho-church visit night.
I started laughing even before I closed the door on the last visit, though I tried to hide it with a cough. I just couldn’t believe it! I went a bit loopy for about 30-45 minutes (to which my family can attest), laughing wildly and occasionally cornering random family members and aggressively saying, “Hi! I’m from _______ Church! Will you be my friend?!” I started to wonder, how many visits would it take before I consider filing a restraining order?
These were nice people, I’m sure, but what kind of church requires their members to do stuff like this? I felt sorry for these people, the pressure they must be under to “bring people in.” Surely we have a better vision for church than this? Though most churches wouldn’t practice this kind of “visitation” anymore, at least this one was consistent with the “A” part of the ABC’s of church growth – Attendance (the others being Buildings & Cash). They were determined and committed to a vision of church life that required us to be a part of it. Wow, that feels cult-like.
Thus, I continue to be gun-shy about connect cards, and churches in general. I hold out hope though, because Jesus lives and he loves his people so I’m going to try and love them too. Most Christians are better than this, but once in a while, BAM! - Church Stalkers. Time to install turrets or at least start breaking out my “Baptist Beatin’ Stick.”