Yep, it happened again. Been there. Done that. And it won’t be the last time, either. But now, I have a word to describe the experience: ghosted. You’ve been ghosted when someone you know suddenly breaks off all contact with you and disappear, like a ghost.
My most recent experience was with an older woman who worshiped with us for about four weeks. A few weeks gets you a phone call and a post card. Three or four weeks, and I call to thank them for coming and ask for a visit. this person, pretty quiet on a Sunday morning, was hyper-talkative when I called. I learned so much about where she’s lived, her husband who died about nine years ago, and her recent experiences with churches that prompted her to visit us. She had grown up Lutheran, felt at home, and asked me, “Can I join the church?”
“Sure,” I said. “We’d be glad to have you. I’ll see you Sunday.”
That was the last time I talked with her. She never returned to worship. Did not answer phone calls or reply to voice mail messages. I had been ghosted. Just like that.
Her elder said to me, “I talked with her. She isn’t interested in coming to our church anymore.”
On my side of the equation, I was puzzled. Confused. Annoyed. Okay, I’ll admit it, angry. Why would you say that? Why would you do that? If you don’t want to worship with us, that’s fine. Go where you feel comfortable. I’m OK with that.
Maybe I need to imagine myself in her shoes. Her last church hurt her. We were her “rebound” church. Nice for a time, but certainly not for a lifetime. We were just a rest stop in her spiritual journey.
And that’s OK. We are here to proclaim, to serve, and to minister to all sorts of people looking for hope, light, peace, forgiveness or direction. They may stay for a long time. They may just stop in for a moment. We may simply be a stepping stone. A motel.
Some church will be blessed because we preached the gospel, we made her feel welcome, we recharged her batteries for her next endeavor. They will be blessed by her presence, her worship and her prayers. It’s like an assist in basketball or hockey. People keep close track of those things, because you can’t win without them.