Last night I met with someone who has come to Reconciler a couple of times in the past few weeks. We had a good conversation. We talked about where we each have lived, how we came to our current vocation, film, churches he has attended, and the community and Reconciler of course. Two things struck me as we each returned home from Kopi Cafe: We did not talk directly about God and I did not talk about Reconciler except in terms of how it has effected my life. He talked about the leaders and people who had been in churches he attended - talked about how they impacted his life or their quirks from which he learned personally. He didn't ask me about our vision, or ecumenism, and I didn't try to get him to tell me what he thought of the church or what attracted him etc. In other words we had simple conversation that one has when you have recently met someone and you have the chance to sit down with them to get to know them better. It just so happened that the reason we were having this conversation was because he had come to the church and I was the pastor of the church he has started attending.
This does authentically reflect my sense of faith and God and life, they are simply intertwined and it isn't always needful to make it all explicit and overt. Church is part of life and is about relationship. Yet, even I can forget this sometimes. There are pressures, for church to be part of life there are structures to maintain, and if no one comes or shows up, then there isn't really and church. These pressures at times can on one hand cause me to do too much, to push when I should just let things be, but on the other hand it can keep me from taking the initiative or offering something. I do this because I am thinking about church in terms of finding ways to get people to come or to get people to stay once they come. One way I am wondering if I do too little is in the area of contacting people after they visit and leave us contact information. It has been our practice to e-mail or mail a letter of welcome to our visitors and then wait to call them until they have come back again. I don't want to seem pushy, yet if I truly believe that church is part of life and is about relationship, then someone who has visited us has shared a significant moment with us, and to simply let that pass with a short note may not acknowledge all that might be there. There are a number of reasons someone may have come on that Sunday, taking the extra effort to call and offer to meet with a person after visiting communicates perhaps a caring for the person who came and for that moment whatever it may have meant to the person to the congregation. I don't know if such a policy will mean that more people who visit us will end up returning and staying, but it may make entering the congregation a little less daunting and a little more like beginning a relationship than entering an organization disconnected from life.