Posted in Rant

“Pastor, we quit.”

In the past few weeks I’ve gotten a brief letter from one member of the congregation and an email from another saying basically the same thing: “Pastor, we quit.” The communications came with no warning, no previous discussion or complaint, or even a hint that anything was wrong. Just a one sentence communication, “Please remove us from membership because we won’t be attending worship there anymore.”

My first reaction is one of guilt. What did do? What did I say? What didn’t I do? I asked my elders if they had any information, but they were as surprised as I was. So I called to find out what was going on. I was right. It was me. But it was also a lot of other things. As I listened, it seemed like everything was a problem. A huge laundry list of reasons why it just wasn’t working out anymore.

My next reaction, then, was of cynicism. You needed ten reasons to quit? You couldn’t even call? You just decided not to show up anymore? Nice commitment. Glad we could count on you. For those kinds of attitudes I ask forgiveness. Shepherds really aren’t supposed to feel that way, are they?

Then, came acceptance. Over the years I’ve learned and have come to accept that people come and people go. Especially in our culture. It’s doesn’t take much to cause people to switch hairdressers, grocery stores, and churches. In the past, I’ve been on the receiving end. Families have joined our church, relating how miserable their previous pastor and congregation were. It shouldn’t surprise me that some will leave and go someplace else with similar stories about us. Many Jews stopped following Jesus himself at certain points in his ministry. And the student shouldn’t expect to be treated differently than the teacher.

I am thankful that there are other churches in our area which are working out better for them, where they are now attending. I think I’ll keep them on my email list, too. Maybe they’ll read my emails. Maybe they’ll block me. Either way is OK.