“We stopped coming and no one ever said a word.”
“The only call I ever got from the church was about my pledge.”
“I went through a rough time but the church didn’t seem to notice.”
In other words: You didn’t care about me as a person.
Hearing the disappointment and hurt expressed in these comments breaks my heart – every time. And each time I vow that we must do better. That we shall do better. Because we can do better. And I believe we have come closer to reaching the goals (ends) we set ourselves a few years ago:
- Our congregants create and experience authentic connection, and
- Congregants give and receive care and support in times of joy, sorrow, and transition.
Yet, despite best intentions it continues to happen. Members and friends, some of whom have been with us for years and even decades, feel neglected, disconnected, and/or drift away without anyone reaching out to check-in, to listen, to show that we care. It seems time to be more systematic about how we stay connected with one another – whether someone is drifting away, is just starting to get involved, or is deeply engaged at present. Here is the experiment we will try out this year:
Each member and friend (about 420 adults) will be contacted at two different times throughout the year. Once by a member of our Board of Trustees and once by staff (Lyn, Lea, or myself) with some help from our Pastoral Care Associates. The contact may come in the form of a phone call/message, a note, a hallway conversation, a visit – whatever seems appropriate. There is no expectation about the contact other than to open the door however slightly reminding us that being a community that cares is at the core of who we are.
Here is my hope: When someone gets in touch with you that you open your heart as much as feels right, knowing there is no ulterior motive you need to worry about. No asking for money, no judgment of choices or priorities, no expectations – simply an invitation to consider: “How are you, right now? What’s on your mind these days? What’s been weighing on your heart recently? What’s been bringing you joy?”
It may feel unusual to have someone you barely know ask such potentially deep questions, but I believe this falls within our covenant. I am curious to see how this experiment will impact the culture of our community and whether there will be less heartbreak as more of us will feel cared for and noticed.
With love and affection and curiosity and care,