Yesterday while taking down my Christmas Tree I was listening to The 700 Club. Yes, I watch that show. I admire and enjoy Terri Meuwssen, Miss America 1973. Pat Robertson? Oh, he's a kook. If you can manage to get through the first half hour, you'll be rewarded with the 2nd which is much more inspirational. Lots of interesting interviews by Miss Terri. But that's not the point.
There was a segment on a Secret Church Shopper ala Undercover Boss. This man is contacted by the ministers of different churches around the country. He shows up at a worship service incognito. He takes note of everything from the parking ease or lack thereof, landscaping, etc. to more important things like how visitors are welcomed. I assume he visits for several services over several weeks. At the end he presents the minister with a detailed report of his findings. Both good and bad. I realize church leadership can be so busy and so overloaded with responsibilities that details can be easily overlooked.
I was amazed.
Many of the things this man mentioned, I have experienced first hand.
Have I attended numerous worship services IN A ROW and no one speak? yep
Have I attended weeks and weeks of a regular small group Bible Study and yet the leader never speaks to me? Or introduces themselves? In fact, no one speaks to me? YEP AND YEP
Ironman and I attended a small group BIble Study class together for over a year. Sure we were absent here and there. But for the most part, we had showed up weekly. Not ONE PERSON spoke. Week after week after week. Ironman eventually refused to go. I stuck it out for awhile but then one fateful Sunday……… well, here's the story:
I walked into the class. Sat down on the 2nd row. The class was just about full with only a few empty seats one of them right next to me. I had scooted over on purpose. I left the seat on the end empty on purpose. For a latecomer. Yes, I try to be considerate. When I think about it. Back to my story. I was alone. Ironman, like I said, had given up and was going to meet me after class in the worship service. The lady directly in front of me was also a regular attender. This particular Sunday she was taking attendance. Why do they even still do that in churches? I have no idea. But this class did it. I guess they want to keep track of numbers? She looked at me and said,
"Is your husband coming?"
No good morning. No hello my name is…… Nothing. Just is your husband coming, I guess she at least had noticed I had a husband with me most Sundays. I don't know. I'm pretty sure she didn't know my name. She had a list on her lap. I assume it was process of elimination.
"No, he's not coming today"
And that was it. She turned back around.
Probably 10 minutes later after the leader had started the class, a man entered quietly in the back. He was late. Hey, been there! See? I knew I was thoughtful leaving an empty seat on the end of a row. He quietly moves across the room and whispers to me, "Is this seat taken?" "Oh no" I said. And I kinda scooted over just a bit. You know, moved my purse that was on the floor near my feet. That kind of stuff. He sat down. I told myself "Introduce yourself" But class was going on. The teacher was presenting his well prepared lesson. (which is the reason I kept going week after week. The teacher was prepared and smart) The seconds ticked by and I made a decision to just not say anything. Ugh.
Then Miss Attendance Taker turns and looks at me. She says something I didn't quite catch. I see her reach for her magic paper and mark my husband present.
Wait……….. hold it…….. this man right here next to me? That came in a few minutes tardy?
He's not my husband.
Have you ever NOTICED my husband? Have you ever NOTICED me? Before today? We've been attending every Sunday for OVER A STINKIN' YEAR! Oh my gosh.
That was the last straw. Sure, you could make a case that Satan was so happy that happened. And so happy that I was the first one out the door when class was over. And so happy that was was totally distracted for the rest of class. And you'd be right.
But how much should we have to endure? I mean, after a year……
And so we no longer go to a small group Bible Study. I miss it. Which is probably a big reason why I watch The 700 Club many days.
I don't think I'll ever be able to get Ironman back in a group Bible Study. Ever.
I'd like to find one. I'd like to make a new friend.
If that time comes, you can bet your sweet bippee I'll be introducing myself to people around me. I'll be saying good morning. I'll be making SURE the attendance keeper knows my name. And one more thing, Small Group Bible Study Leaders? Lose the name tags. I hate them. You think it helps learn people's names. But it doesn't. Introducing yourself and speaking to people around you is how you learn people's names. Step out out of your comfort zone. Say hello to people around you. I know you do it in the line at Target. So do it at church, ok?