My colleague Rev. Sharon Wylie who serves our congregation in Escondido writes a wonderful blog she titles "Ministry in Steel Toe Shoes" http://sharonwylie.com/ Her current series is on Church 101. Its chock full of great ideas and reflections for those who have never been to a church before or who have always wondered about why we do what we do.
This one is largely adapted from Rev. Wylie's blog on "the receiving line".
"I came to church expecting a sermon and a worship service, and that’s what I got. I had no idea what to say about it. (What do you say to the minister if you are in that line?)
".... I treasure the brief interactions I have with people coming through the receiving line. This is sometimes the only concrete feedback I get on the service and the sermon. I spend weeks planning and preparing each service, all in the hopes of creating an experience that is meaningful and touches people’s lives in some way. And then I’m curious to know, was it meaningful? Did something in the service touch or move you?
"Please know, I don’t expect every person to come through the line. I know you want to get your coffee, or you need to get home, or find your children, or you might not want to stop to chat with the minister. But for those people who just have no idea what to say, I thought a tip sheet might be helpful to you.
"Some things people have said to me in the receiving line that I appreciate hearing:
Thank you for the service
Thank you for the sermon
That service/sermon was just what I needed
I’m so glad to have found this congregation
That was fun! (Some services are fun!)
This service made me cry
I’ve been struggling with this very issue; thank
you for talking about it
Thank you for having the courage to say…
This service touched my life because…
I’m challenged by the idea that…(something
from the sermon)
"People also say–and I appreciate hearing–”I liked the service.” I didn’t include it above because “liking” the service isn’t the goal, and when someone says that, I assume they actually mean something like “this service was meaningful to me.” Worship is meant to be many different things at different times: challenging, comforting, celebratory. “Likable” isn’t something I strive for when I put together a service, but I understand that it’s a compliment when someone tells me they liked it.
"What not to say? No interaction with the minister in the receiving line should take longer than 30 seconds (AT MOST). It’s just not the place for a meaningful conversation. Perhaps if no one is behind you, you might linger for a few minutes, but keep in mind that the minister may have other people she needs to speak with or things she/he needs to do after services. And please, please don’t tell the minister anything you expect him to remember. He’s just spoken with dozens of other people and will likely not remember your request to call or visit or email the link to the thing."
Thanks Sharon. You said it. And now the service begins!
With Grace and Grit,