I was seriously blown away by the comments left yesterday on my post about church cliques. I received messages both on Facebook and by email.
And in all the messages, it was clear, these were people that were hurt by them, in one form or another, and at vastly different ages! The blogs I’ve been reading deal with Youth ministry cliques, but it is obviously more of a church-wide issue than just for students and teenagers. Some were afraid to even mention it HERE of all places because of reprocussions at their own church. 😦
“Seriously, it’s been 15 years, but I still carry this junk around with me.
Junior High and High School youth group were hard times for me. We practically lived at the church and were involved in everything. And it’s tough on an unpopular kid to be constantly looking for where to be without being rejected.”
“Everyone was friendly enough the first couple of Sundays. Past that, no one EVER spoke to me past a “good morning”. ”
“But no one spoke to me. No one sat beside me. I was not included in invitations of any kind. I slowly started to withdraw into myself….again. My daughter was telling me to not stay home, go anyway. But it hurt, and it got harder to do. I did not feel accepted. I did not want to church hop or Sunday School change. And since my husband and 3 young girls had been going there for 5 years, I decided the best thing to do was to stay home. I’m so tired all the time anyway. It’s been 6 months since my last Sunday at church, and not ONE email, not one card, not one phone call.”
“I don’t even want to go any more.”
“I’m invisible at church. Not even the adults talk to me. We have alot of them in our youth group, but they only talk to each other or the popular kids. Moslty the seniors or college kids. They don’t even sit with us.”
(As a sunday school teacher working with teenagers, that last one brought tears to my eyes.)
I have to admit my own fear of even writing the post. I am involved in my own church, I teach youth myself, what if they all think I’m discussing MY church and get angry. And then I decided, I am speaking to my own church. And yours. And yours. And the one down on Main street too, so just send this on down to them…..they need to hear it too.
We are sent to serve other people. We are meant to fellowship with other people. And I think a church family is more than just a handshake at the door by the old men assigned the job.
(Little shout-out there to our door greeters from church…I LOVE these men. I want to adopt them as my Grandfathers. Make them take me fishing. I can’t walk in the door without a hug and a kiss on the cheek from both of them. I adore them. And days when there’s so much stress sitting on my chest and I can hardly breathe, their kind faces and firm hugs, help to relieve it. And no fake “how-are-yous” “I’m-fine” with them. They are genuine. I want to tell them “Take me with you”. They at least care enough to find out how we are doing. I heart them.)
I just believe we all can do a better job. It’s such a simple thing to give a genuine smile or a handshake. A card if you notice someone missing. A kind word when you know someone’s having a rough time.
I believe if we honestly did what Christ asked us to do, our churches would be FULL. Instead, we have wounded Christians wandering churches feeling alone, wounded Christians sitting on couches at home because they think no one cares, wounded Christians who walk away from God because their perception of a loving Christ is altered by how they were treated at church.
We can all do better. That’s my point. Be kind. It’s not up to Pastor Gordon (you probably don’t have a Pastor Gordon, and I’m sorry if you don’t, ours is wonderful!) to do it all. It’s not up to a “committee” of card-writers or phone-callers. It’s the job of the church family. If you’re in church, you’re in a church family, suck it up and be nice to people. Reach out.
(I just said suck it up on my blog…..) heh.
I wonder if we can do that. No, not say “suck it up”, actually GROW our churches by kindness. I think we need a committee meeting or something….maybe lunch at Olive Garden….or maybe someone brave enough to say “suck it up” 4 times in a blog and pray she doesn’t get fired by her own church. 😉
I challenge everyone with a “Grow Your Church with Kindness” campaign for everyone. And if you use my slogan, I want royalties. Ya know, a sister’s broke over here…..I gotta have a new computer!
And since I feel like I slapped some hands AGAIN today, I’ll leave you with a little chuckle. If I ever renew my vows, this is how I want to go down the aisle. No one in my wedding party allowed unless you are brave enough to do this:
Enjoy and have a HAPPY FRIDAY!