I love meeting new people, really I do! And there’s nothing more exciting to a pastor than a fresh face walking through the front door of his church on Sunday morning.
There are several reasons you actually should avoid the urge to drop by my church for a visit. Believe it or not, it could cause more trouble than you ever intended.
In fact, I would ask that if you are perfectly happy at your own church, please don’t visit mine.
Why? Lots of reasons.
First, when you arrive, I will automatically think you are “shopping” for a new church. I will take time away from people who are members and need my time, in order to spend time with you. I may also miss other people who really are looking for a new church home in order to spend time talking with you, even though you are just a “looky-Lou”.
Sorry, “ain’t nobody got time fo dat”!
This may sound a little uppity, but the truth is pastors have very limited time on Sunday mornings. We have maybe 10 to 15 minutes prior to a service (because that’s when everyone shows up) to try and greet as many people as possible. Some people will get mad if the pastor doesn’t speak to them, or feel neglected. Yeah, sounds pretty needy, doesn’t it? Well, welcome to my world, which is populated by several people just that needy! And that’s not just at my church, by the way: that’s every church.
Next, if it gets back to your pastor, he will think you’re “shopping” too…and it will hurt him. Trust me, pastors are not made of Teflon. People leaving our church hurts us, probably worse than anything negative you might say about us. So don’t put that thought in his mind – if he’s been a good pastor to you, he doesn’t deserve it!
Third, you will be missing the word God has for your church. You see, God gives specific churches very unique ministries within a community. And when you miss one of your pastor’s messages, you miss the “marching orders” God has for you and your fellow church members for that week.
You may argue that each Christian church should have the same mission, and that’s true to a point. However, even if we share the goal to reach the world for Christ (which not all really do…some say they do yet don’t really try, but that’s a topic for another article), God has called each church to do it often in starkly different ways. Some do servant evangelism, others emphasize one-on-one witnessing, still others emphasize lifestyle evangelism, and there’s also evangelistic events…and that’s just how we do the single goal of evangelism. Imagine the differences when you add in all the other ministries!
If you come to my church, you may hear completely different marching orders and calls for commitment from me. Honestly, those may confuse what your pastor has told you, or may even be in conflict with what your pastor says is the “right way to do it”. While I don’t believe in just a singular “right way”, some pastors do, and hearing my message may cause you to have doubts about your pastor’s leading from God.
If you think about it, “visiting my church” is almost the Christian equivalent of “sleeping around”. It’s like you’re saying, “I’m not sure my pastor is everything I need. Some Sunday’s I don’t feel fulfilled after the message, and i wonder if he really cares about me (insert pouty lip here). So I’m going to shop around a bit and see if there’s someone who can scratch my itch a little better (’bow bow, chicka wacka bow bow’)”.
Sorry kids, but church is not supposed to be entertainment, even though I’ll admit that’s what some churches water it down to these days. It’s not about you sitting and being entertained by a message and some worship. It’s not about some pastor’s persona, and you worshipping them until someone prettier and hipper comes along.
What church is about is you aligning yourself with the mission and methods of a local body of believers. It’s about you putting yourself under the spiritual authority of a Godly man…a Godly, imperfect, occasionally overwhelmed man. And hopefully, he makes himself accountable to you and the congregation too…unless you belong to a cult.
By the way, the church “cults” out there are pastored by men who want you to worship them from afar because they’re afraid for you to see their blemishes up close. They aren’t transparent or accountable to the congregation, and they never allow you to question them or their decisions. If you are in a church like that…and there are in fact quite a few of them around…get out ASAP and start looking for a new one.
However, if your church is pastored by a flawed yet humble man who loves God and does his best to lead the congregation toward God, then stay put. Don’t move a muscle, and know you are among the luckiest, most blessed Christians in the world.
Because a good “man of God” is hard to find!