On occasion, I give phone calls to people I haven’t seen around church in awhile.
My responses to their reponses have me a bit conflicted.
If they respond to my “hey, I’ve missed seeing you and want to make sure everything is OK”
“oh, sorry, I’ve just gotten out of the routine of coming but I’m hoping to get back soon”
then I respond (internally of course) with “Hallelujah! They haven’t found someone else younger and better looking!”
Because my great fear in that phone call is that they will say, “Oh, I’ve started going to __________”— someplace younger, hipper, cooler — or even “No, I’m thinking of joining _______________” — someplace more sedate and comfortable.
So I’m conflicted because I’d rather have people not going to church at all(temporarily) than going to another church. Because if they’re not going anywhere, they’ll probably come back here.
I think most pastors, if honest, would share this preference.
In all those motivations and all that internal conversation, I overlook something quite critical: the people belong to God and not to me; they are members of the Kingdom and not of Good Shepherd.
My prayer is that I will soon be able to have Paul’s attitude rather than my own. In the face of church “competition” from leaders with different styles than his own, he remembered that “the important thing . . . [is that] Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.”