She stood there, off to the side all by herself. I didn’t know who she was. She looked like she was waiting to talk to me or was waiting for me to notice her. I kept trying to get to her but others kept stepping in front of me with their ‘urgent’ questions or needing to give and get a hug. Someone had an update on a loved one, someone else wanted to talk about making an announcement, someone else wanted to know if they could stop in and talk about something important. All very important things………..but she was still standing there, waiting, by herself.
Then I looked at the clock. Holy smokes – 5 minutes before the service starts and I still need to get my robe on! Off I ran, right past her. I gave her a smile and promised myself that I would stay after the service just long enough to welcome her and get her name. I saw her sitting upstairs ….all by herself. Why didn’t anyone else seem to see her? I must take a few minutes after the service and find out who she is and welcome her. But the service went long. The service went very very long. I was 10 minutes over. It takes almost 20 minutes to get from Shelby’s pulpit to my car to Claybanks UMC. I have to be at Claybanks in time to help the new acolyte get robed and to give her some last minute instructions. I need to FLY! And so I missed her. Don’t know who she was. She didn’t come back the next week. What is her story? Did I miss an important opportunity? Will she give me another chance and come back?
This is my weekly struggle. I try so hard to get to see the new people who come to church on Sunday. At Claybanks UMC, I get the opportunity to greet folks at the door after the service. I also have the opportunity to talk with them during coffee time. Shelby UMC has moved their coffee time to before service so that I can talk to people, but visitors seldom come early so I don’t usually get a chance to see and talk to them. Even so, I often get sidetracked and can’t get to everyone I’d like to. Last Sunday I never even made it downstairs! I was there, but never was able to get downstairs to grab a cup of coffee and talk.
I don’t know what the solution is. I wish I could clone myself sometimes. But that woman who I missed, haunts me. I don’t know who she was. I hope someone else does. I hope someone talked to her. I hope someone invited her to come back. I hope someone told her to give me a call if she needs to talk.
This whole situation just reminds me again that I need to remind you that I may be the pastor, but YOU all are the ministers! YOU are the ones who will have the best opportunities to invite people, YOU are the ones who will have the best opportunities to meet and greet newcomers, YOU are the ones who should cut through the masses that are swamping me and break through to introduce me to the newcomer. And if you have an issue you need to talk about, call me or email me during the week, I’ll find time to meet with you if needed. If you have an announcement, talk to the liturgist about it. If it can wait so that I can talk to newcomers, let’s let it wait. Help me to be more welcoming by allowing me to have the time to talk to newcomers. If there aren’t any………..MOB away! Lol Let’s make 2016 a great New Year!