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?