The title of today’s piece may seem a bit dark and that’s not the intention. What I want to do here is make an observation that I believe applies more in the small(er) church environment, but may also manifest itself if you worship with a greater number of people.
Churches love new people.
That’s not a bad thing. Especially if somehow, despite the potential obstacles and blockages, people who have no previous church background, or have been away from God for a long time suddenly show up on Sunday morning. Without smothering them, we should certainly let them know that we’re glad they came and do everything we can to retain them as attendees.
But churches can be especially affectionate toward people who transfer from other congregations, especially if they have a gift-set they bring with them. They are quickly fast-tracked to the front of the line for service opportunities like Disney tourists with a Fast Pass.
I say this not out of resentment, because my wife and I have been that fresh blood several times; mostly together but sometimes one and not the other and vice versa. At one church’s annual meeting, a woman stood up and asked, “So, can anyone just walk in off the street and get a job here?” She was referring to me. The chairman wisely called for the coffee break to convene at that exact moment.
(After the break I was then asked to explain my previous experience and detail the eight-page questionnaire that the denomination required; a form which establishes personal testimony and doctrinal beliefs.)
But I’ve also seen it happen where senior church leadership is quite happy to fawn all over people who arrive from other assemblies with the requisite pedigree to be thrust immediately into high-profile positions. And I’ve seen those same people decide, six months in, that this wasn’t the right church after all and disappear as quickly as they arrived. They might have decided this sooner had they not been put to work so quickly.
The bottom line here is to know that this phenomenon exists and, insofar as it depends on you, try not to promote the feeding frenzy to extremes. It’s great to work with new people and allow them to get involved and share their gifts, but it’s also important to give newcomers time to settle in and get to know the tenor of a local church’s ministry.