I Wish You Had Signed Your Name

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Most weeks, I receive a note or two regarding the Sunday service. They are usually encouraging. Father God knows I need them. Most Monday’s, I suffer a little bit from what I call my “Elijah moment”. I feel like I’m the only one left in Horeb (Read 1 Kings 19:10). Your notes pick me up, especially if you sign them, and I keep them in a file. I take them out once in a while and re-read them thanking God for you.

But sometimes, like recently, an anonymous note comes through. Usually, they are critical of some element of the worship, a leader, or myself. Some pastor’s refuse to read anonymous notes. Not me, I read each correspondence and sift through the anonymous note for any insight that might help move the church forward. Then, I pray for the unknown person and promptly throw the note in the trash.

I don’t like anonymous notes. I wished you had signed your name. Here’s why:

I’m like most pastors. It’s hard to tell where I stop and the church begins. (It’s nearly midnight and I’m in my home office doing church work.) Rightly or wrongly — and it’s probably wrongly — I live with the successes and the failures of OUR church. I love Jesus, and because I love Jesus, I love his people — the church. That means you — so I wish I knew who you are.

Signing your name means you're invested. An unsigned note says, “Here is what’s wrong with YOUR church. Putting your name on the line, however, takes ownership. Signing your name says, “this is OUR church and I’m concerned that something is wrong with it.” Even if we disagree, I respect the author who loves God’s bride enough to place their name as a witness at the wedding feast each Sunday.

Signing your name means we can have a conversation. An unsigned note is like a heckler at a baseball game. They stay far enough away not to play the game but believe they know exactly what is happening on the field. It takes courage to close the distance enough to talk. I understand that. But I, the elders, and the staff WANT TO HAVE a conversation together. We want to give a voice to the voiceless. I’m not expecting you to agree with me or like everything we do but let’s talk about it and better understand each other.

Signing your name is how it is done in the family of God. Or at least it is how it should be done. It’s how we do conflict in my family. If my wife and I disagree on something we don’t beat around the bush or send anonymous notes to each other. We might even fight — loudly at times — but in the end we are family and in the end we love each other more.

Signing your name is an act of worship. This note was placed in the offering bag on a recent Sunday morning. The collection is an act of worship. Tossing a critical note in with sacrificial gifts of the rest of the saints is a defilement — plain and simple. A signed note given to an elder is a “choose this day whom you will serve” moment. It is a risk and it takes courage. It’s personal but its also a spiritually growing experience — critical or not.

The writer of this note said that he or she feels ignored. Unheard. The comments were legitimate concerns and others may or may not share them. I wish I could respond. I can’t. So it went in the trash. We’ll do better, but I feel like some resolution needs to happen so we can both grow in love unless you sign your note that won’t happen. And that, for Pete’s sake, is regrettable.

Anyway, that’s how I see it.

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