Happy […] – Love from Church

Many churches send their members a personalised birthday card. My church does, so does Hillsong – click on the Birthdays tab. We also commemorate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day with gifts for the mums and dads. These little things are supposed to help people feel that they are cared for by their church family.

My accountant also sends me a birthday card. So do other people whom I have a business relationship with.

Now I have nothing against birthday cards, when they come from someone I actually know, whom I have a genuine friendship with. But I’ve always felt they are worth little when they come from a system, rather than a person.

I don’t feel more cared for when I receive one of these from the church – unless its an expression of genuine friendship from an individual I have a personal friendship with there. The last one I was sent even had a verse in it to encourage me to follow the church vision. Have a wonderful year, and by the way, here’s a reminder of how we hope you will spend it!

How ‘cared for’ I feel rather depends upon my personal interactions instead. From the pastors, in a formal church, all I look for is a mutual respect. If a friendship develops, that’s a bonus. Otherwise, its the personal relationships with friends there that are meaningful to me.

These things probably aren’t even big items in the church budget. But I can’t help getting the feeling that the money would be better spent elsewhere – say, on the children’s ministry for Mothers’ or Fathers’ Day, and not bothering at all for birthdays – people can always be greeted on their birthday after church or in a church bulletin etc. That’s much nicer than getting a card anyway.

So am I just a spoil sport? Or is it more cynical – just a symptom of a marketing ploy similar to any developing business. Should churches even bother with these small things, or are people like me who find it vaguely out of step with the type of community I hope for in church just overly irritable?

3 thoughts on “Happy […] – Love from Church

  1. That’s a good post Raving Pente, some really good thoughts there. I would say it is a little bit of a marketing ploy (hmm… just a little bit)

    I know people who have left C.C.C Oxford Falls but who still until recently received letters to attend a rise and build luncheon/dinner and the aforementioned b’day cards. More a case of “you’re still in the database and are yet to be manually deleted” rather than “hey we really care and want you to know it!”

    I got some auto-generated emails from my assigned “pastor” even after we had left. I kept responding to the emails explaining we had left but it was only till the 3rd or 4th one that we actually got a response from said pastor. Even then, it was not “why have you left? Let’s talk about it” but something along the lines of “God bless you and keep you safe wherever the path may lead you”

    I think the thing is, whatever we are doing in “God’s name” needs to be done with sincerity and from the heart. If it’s something we are just doing to appease a cultural, emotional or workplace unspoken rule, then it becomes something of very little worth. Christ gave us some very valuable instruction whilst here in the flesh regarding our giving, it was to be “in secret” so that our Heavenly father would see it and reward us, not something to be seen by men and in which case, we have then received our reward in full.

  2. Thanks Bill.

    Yes, it is a marketing ploy I guess, especially at the megachurches, although I still think at my small church it is also supposed to make people feel cared for.

    It’s a bit off-putting to get form letters etc after you’ve left, especially after notifying people several times. Shows how impersonal it really is.

    At least at CCCOF they gave you some friendly words when you left. A very extreme, cultlike church could become very hostile. Still, they don’t seem interested in finding out why you moved on. (On either a personal or ‘how can we do better in future’ level.) A friend would be. So your pastor is not your friend. Yet they are assumed to be accountable for you in some fashion – how does that work?

  3. My experience entirely Ravingpente,

    I receive a birthday card every year with somebodys handwriting and a scripture-verse or benediction, but very maddenly for me, no signaiture!

    The implication entirely is that:
    A- I have been reduced to a database entry.
    B-someone is assigned the ‘ministry’ of writing to me; this changes as the handwriting changes.
    C-My Senior Pastor or ‘Leadership Team’ could not be stuffed in co-signing their thoughts.
    D-Meaning that they didnt care= the thing had become a ‘duty’, rather than expression of love.
    E-No-signature means; I cannot/will not/am not allowed to- take any personal responsibility for you.
    F-That the ministry is just a useless waste and expense; meant to give the illusion that our church is ‘actually doing something’.

    Well, how bright do we have to be to work out the dead-ness in such works?

    As I said to a great young man the other day; “Freedom my friend is just a doorknob away”…


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