I miss having Josh in service on Sunday. Josh came to our church for a few months and then one Sunday he was missing. No one was overly concerned that day but then two weeks had gone without him and now it is final; Josh has the status of “Gone to a different church”.
I see this happening a lot in our church, more so in our younger Contemporary Service than in the older Traditional or Family service. People come to visit some choose to come again and some do not. I don’t mind that so much because a lot of people are searching for “Their” church and have to try a few on for size first. The thing that breaks my heart is when someone decides to give us a chance to be “Their” church and we fail to fill the need.
A person is a lot like a puzzle piece in that there are only so many other pieces that can perfectly join with it. We can be friendly to many but only a few can join with us in intimate friendship. We value the community of our family and friends above any other, and our church needs to provide those types of bonds before it can minister.
The day I suspected that Josh may have left our church I began to ask others if they knew his situation. I was surprised that nearly everyone I spoke to referred to Josh as John’s friend. John was the one that brought Josh to our service. He was John’s friend when he arrived and sadly he remained only John’s friend when he left.
Our church failed to provide enough community of fellowship to help Josh feel like a true member of the church. So while I am encouraged that Josh sought out and found another church that he can feel close to, I will miss him in service and in Bible Study.
What could I have done to help Josh? I had assumed that our ages created a gulf between us. I am nearing forty and Josh was just into his twenties. I have a family, he is single and in so many other ways we lived different lives. It seemed awkward to me at the time to try to become one of Josh’s close friends.
I assumed that people his own age could do this better than I. But there is a quote I love from an old movie that says “It is no good wondering if the air is any good when that is all there is to breathe”. I thought of this when I heard Josh had left us and I was convicted in my spirit.
I forgot that we both worshiped the same God, were infused with the same spirit and shared the same enemy. I forgot that we are both searching for answers and purpose to our lives, and I forgot that we were brothers and not strangers.
I need to reach out more to people and invite them into the community of our fellowships. I need to encourage others in my church to remember our visitors beyond the time of the service. I need to seek out returning guests and show them how happy I am to see them back and to constantly reaffirm their importance. I need to engage them and learn about them, and to share my life with them.
Perhaps my church is not the church for everyone, but I am going to do my part to give others a good chance to find out.