We were doing research on our long-time members for All Saints Sunday. When I say “we were doing it” I mean, of course, Nancy, my administrative assistant, was doing it. She remarked to me that we have a large membership (almost 600) and of that membership, there are quite a few people on our membership role who are not active here at Hicks.
“Where are they?” she asked.
Where indeed. There is no single answer to where inactive members have gone. Some have moved out of the area. Others have moved on to other churches and forgot to tell us. I have said before that “I could fill this church again with the people that have come and gone here.” That is a perspective that comes with being a pastor in one place for a long time. I will also say this is the nature of any volunteer organization and this is the nature of the church. People are coming and going all the time.
Just as people don’t know they are coming here before they actually do, sometimes people that are here don’t always know they are leaving in advance of them, well, leaving. Sometimes, the church no longer fits who they are.
Sometimes people just need to go. I get it. (Side note: when this happens, give me a call, write me a note – tell us why so we can learn and be better).
But oftentimes, a person’s reason for leaving the church actually has little or nothing to do with the church. There are things going on in their lives and their participation at Church becomes collateral damage. Sometimes, an encouraging word from a spiritual friend can make a big difference. Timothy Keller says that we are all “either moving closer to God or farther away from God” at any one time in our lives. So one thing we can do for each other is give an encouraging and timely word like, “Hey, I haven’t seen you at church lately.
Is everything okay?’
Just knowing you are missed is something. One of the things I like about Hicks is that our three worship services are small enough that you can get to know a lot of folks by face and name.
Maybe you can’t know everyone, but you certainly need not feel like just an anonymous face in the crowd. No one should feel that way. Let someone know that you’ve missed them at church. Give someone a call and invite them to meet you there this Sunday. Of course, that means you need to be there too.
Let’s all be there and see what God might do.
See you in worship, Rich Morris, pastor