This post will more than likely just serve as therapy for me. It will be a journal entry of sorts. I have found that in almost 8 years of ministry one of the hardest things is the follow-up/ check-in for people in your church. In a church like Grace Fellowship, there are many who say they go to Grace, but after some time you do not see them. Many of them were consistent attenders for awhile, but have stopped attending for whatever reason. You have others who are going through a busy season, and just have not been able to attend for whatever reason. Others who have really left and now attend another church. No matter the situation, I always find myself in a tough spot. Some people want to be chased and pursued while others just want to be left alone and even hope you have not noticed they are gone. I find this balancing act very difficult. Some want a call, some will never answer that call. Some want lunch, others want to leave the restaurant if you just happen to bump into them at the same place they are eating. For some I call. Others I email or Facebook. I go to visit some and set up appointments with others. I really try and engage each person in a way that I think is comfortable, but in that process I never feel like I am getting it quite right. I feel like I end up bothering some while others feel like I am ignoring them. I am going to continue to work hard to find this balance, but I have thought of some things that would help from those people who go absent in a church.
- When you are written or called, get back to the people who reach out. It is incredibly frustrating to pursue people and never hear anything. I would rather hear go away and leave me alone than silence.
- When you do talk to the person from the church reaching out, be honest. If you have found another church, share that. If you were wounded by the church and did not know what to do, convey that. If you have been at travel baseball for two months, share that. If you are struggling with your beliefs, share that.
- Let the church know your boundaries. If you want pursued or left alone, please share.
- Share how the church can pray for you if that is what you need.
- Please be careful not to be “one and done” person. The church serves you for a long time and then this thing happens and you are gone. Remember the faithfulness of a community.