The Wanderer

As I walked through the wilderness of this world …

The deal

with 7 comments

“I’m just not being fed,” s/he said. “This is not a very friendly church. No one really speaks to me. I am not the only one who feels this way. There are lots of people who are struggling. I’m just not sure that this is the right place for me. Why can’t we be more like Broadstreet Evangelical? I really think that I would be better off there.”

“I am very sorry to hear that,” said the pastor. “Might I suggest a deal? I recommend that you go to Broadstreet Evangelical for six months, but on the following conditions:

  • You must not arrive more than two minutes before any service begins. If possible, slip in just afterwards. You should leave as soon as it is over, or – ideally – just before it is properly finished.
  • Please do not attend more than one service a week, certainly not more than once on any given day. When you are able, miss occasional days altogether.
  • Please minimise all contact with others who attend the church. Avoid face-to-face communication at all costs, but – if possible – filter out any notes, cards, texts, emails, or any other such interaction. Cut right down on meaningful conversation.
  • You should not go to anyone’s home, nor invite anyone to yours.
  • Under no circumstances must you engage with the elders. Don’t call them or answer the phone if they call. If you can, wait until they are looking the other way or engaged with someone else before you leave. If necessary, find an alternative exit. Make all conversation as perfunctory as possible. Do not come to them for counsel, consult with them in difficulty, seek them out when distressed, or listen to their advice.
  • Cultivate a healthy sense of resentment (passive-aggressive behaviour is fine) toward anyone who might even begin to suggest that you could make some sort of contribution to the life of the church. Maintain the stance that your occasional presence is quite sacrifice enough.
  • If you must engage with others, seek out the least spiritually healthy in the church. As soon as possible, steer the conversation round to the faults of the church, her members, and her elders.
  • Maintain a healthy circle of worldly friends. Spend as much time with them as possible, going to all the places they attend, engaging in all the chatter they pursue, indulging in all the activities they embrace. Keep up a lively social media engagement with such.
  • Put the advice of friends, family, doctors, self-help books, and anything else really, above and before the advice of any spiritually mature Christian.
  • Should anyone seek to reach out to you to minister to you, cultivate unreliability: assure them of your best intentions, but evade, postpone, or cancel all such interaction with varying degrees of notice. Train them to expect you to seem vaguely positive but never actually available.
  • Sleep through some sermons.
  • Don’t read. Just don’t.
  • Don’t push yourself. You’re worth it!
  • Minimise private devotion, especially private prayer. Make sure that you are at least as busy with other significant demands as you have been for the last couple of years. Don’t read any ‘tricky bits’ from the Bible, and don’t overdose on the obvious stuff.
  • Take long holidays, and give yourself plenty of time on your return to ‘get back into the swing of things.’
  • Never volunteer. Avoid being nominated.
  • Under no circumstances make meaningful eye contact.
  • Look out for others now at Broadstreet who left this congregation for the same reasons as you are giving. If they are speaking, you might want to listen.
  • Also, if anyone at Broadstreet tries to pin you down, I would recommend an occasional visit to Gaping Lane Community Church. By all means be subtle, but make clear that if Broadstreet is becoming a little narrow, the open-minded congregation over at Gaping Lane might be the place for you.

“There’s some other stuff,” said the pastor, “but that should do for starters. It should not take a great deal of investment – no new skills to learn, no additional duties to embrace. Perhaps if you would be willing to give it a go for six months, and then come back and let me know how your soul has prospered and your walk with the Lord has developed? Then we can chat again. Deal?”

Written by Jeremy Walker

Thursday 25 January 2018 at 17:21

7 Responses

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  1. Brother Walker,

    Sounds like a good deal to me! This is all too familiar in my dealings with others throughout the years.

    I wrote the following last week after taking two of my children to the dentist. Thought I would share it with you.

    “A Familiar Analogy”

    Maybe I should find another dentist or just quit going to the dentist altogether. Every time I go they make me feel so bad. When they ask if I brush my teeth 2-3 times a day and floss daily, I tell them I try but often fail. They then get on my case for not brushing enough and not brushing the right way. They tell me to cut back on sugars, sodas, and everything that is good and expect me to consume fruits, vegetables, and water.
    When I take my kids in and they find cavities, they jump on my case and tell me to watch what they drink, what they eat, and they tell me to help them brush EVERY NIGHT. They expect me to give them only water to drink and to keep them away from candy always.
    The dentist wants me to come in at least twice a year. They are a constant annoyance. They call, they send emails, and text me reminders when I have missed my appointments.
    They make me feel bad. They make me feel like I’m a bad brusher and a bad parent. I feel like every time they go they single me out. I try my best but they always expect perfection.

    I’m tired of feeling guilty.
    I’m tired of their high expectations for my life.
    I’m tired of them trying to tell me how to eat.
    I’m tired of all the commands they give me.

    The dentist comes across proud. He thinks he knows everything about dental care. I have been brushing my own teeth for years. I am pretty sure I know more about my teeth than he does. I think I’m going to find a dentist that meets my needs and makes me feel good or I’ll quit going altogether.

    Casey Kuhlman

    Thursday 25 January 2018 at 20:15

    • This is true for a friend of mine who has attended the same church for over 20 years but complains about it every time the subject of church comes up. Her most frequent comment is that “people are there just aren’t really friendly” but she keeps going. I’d invite her to my church, but I don’t want to hear the same thing from here about it.

      Mary S Borges

      Monday 29 January 2018 at 19:30

  2. […] The Deal […]

    Read This! 02.06.18 - Borrowed Light

    Tuesday 6 February 2018 at 11:32

  3. May I reproduce for the church?

    Jonathan Hunt

    Wednesday 7 February 2018 at 09:12

    • By all means. An appropriate acknowledgement is all that is required.

      Jeremy Walker

      Wednesday 7 February 2018 at 09:30

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