Monday, September 25, 2006

Interview questions, part one

Here is the first installment of my responses to the interview questions about being a visiting preacher.

Can you give any examples of how a church (probably inadvertently) has made a visiting preacher feel unwelcome? No names needed of course, though it would be nice to know whether this happened to you or to someone else who went out to preach.

I can think of a few examples.  At one church where I preached, the Elder who arranged my visit sat on the front row with a recorder in hand, recording the audio of my sermon.  Nothing had been mentioned of this beforehand, and nothing was said afterward until I received a CD in the mail of my sermon.  On the CD was a website address, and upon visiting the website I found my sermon available for download!  In addition to violating all sorts of copyright laws, this move certainly did not make me feel welcomed or appreciated; it made me feel like an appliance.

Another "appliance" moment came when a leader from a church was speaking with me by phone, arranging my visit.  The church was over an hour away, adding substantially to the time involved in going there to preach.  After I accepted his invitation to preach, he mentioned that they would pay me $100-- "the easiest $100 you've ever made" he commented.  His disregard for the value of my time and ideas, as well as a low view of preaching in general, left me feeling cheap and used.

Also, I visited one church with my wife on Mother's Day.  One of the ladies in the church had purchased small potted plants for the other ladies and brought them to give out that Sunday.  There weren't enough for my wife to receive one, however, and as the church member passed them around to everyone EXCEPT my wife, neither of us felt very welcome.

Finally, I once went to preach on a Sunday when Marcie (my wife) was sick, and both children went with me.  When I arrived at the church, I had to wander around through two buildings, passing church families along the way, as I looked for some sort of nursery facility for my two-year-old.  When I finally found the right place, everyone there acted as if I should know what to do to check her in!  No one there was being attentive to the fact that I was a visitor-- let alone their visiting preacher.  (Note: that same church called me a few months later and asked if I would submit my name to their search committee.  I turned them down.)

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