As a church, one of the important things we do is call people if they have been gone for 4 or 5 weeks. When I make these calls, I get a lot of interesting responses. I thought I would take some time today to share some of those responses with you. And before I get started, I will just say: if your pastor calls you, call your pastor back!
“I am too busy now.”
By far the biggest thing that I hear is that something else has taken the place of Sunday morning. Work has gotten busier, weekend activities have come up, or they just want to sleep in. If you can’t say no to all the other activities, eventually you will say no to worship. There is an old saying that if the devil can’t make you bad, he will make you busy. Busyness pulls people away from connecting with other Christians, and that pulls them away from Christ.
“I have been sick (or something major has happened).”
People often miss church because they’ve been sick, had surgery, been traveling, or had something big happened in their lives. I love to be able to connect pray for people who have been sick or going through hard situations. Or to celebrate with them if they have been traveling or something good has happened. I’m not calling to make people feel guilty; I am calling because I care about people and their walk with Jesus.
“I don’t have a reason.”
Sometimes when I call people, they admit that they don’t have a reason for not coming to church. They just stopped coming. This used to be hard for me to accept, but now I realize that many people near reason to go to church because there are plenty of reasons to skip. I can’t make people come to church, but I can communicate that I care. What I want is for people to stay connected, because the connections are so important for faith to grow.
“Something happened at church (but I didn’t want to tell you).”
It could have been something I said, or something that someone else did, but there are times that people have stopped attending church because their feelings have been hurt. They never wanted to tell me, but they did expect me to call and find out why they had been gone. This is kind of a passive aggressive game of cat and mouse; I was “just supposed to know.” Thankfully I do make these calls, and I often get to hear these hard stories. Sometimes an apology is given. More often, a person just needed to be listened to, and they realize there was a misunderstanding – which almost disconnected them from a loving church family.
“Thank you for your call.”
Being in church is a crucial part of spiritual growth. Most of the time when I call, people are very appreciative that I took the time to reach out, to care for them, and to invite them back to church. People love that our church is very connected, and they know that if they are gone that we will reach out to them. Most calls end with people saying thank you for the call. We get to pray together and plan out the next steps of their spiritual growth. People know that their walk with God is the most important thing; they just need some reminders from a shepherd to get them back on track.