I write this blog primarily for people who want to check me out before they attend Cedarbrook. A big determining factor in choosing a church is the pastor so I help people get inside my mind a bit by writing. This blog gets a few hits a day from people like that or people who did a search for a topic I covered or people tired of watching the grass grow and looking for something a little more stimulating (or maybe less!).
So, you can imagine my surprise on Monday when I saw that 40 people had hit my blog by 9:00 a.m. (Over 250 by Wednesday). As I mentioned below, my post on Why I Don't Like Church got reprinted in a national blog. If 250 clicked the link that means that many more actually read it. I guess I had my fifteen minutes of fame! It was fun to see a national dialogue by fellow church leaders over a few paragraphs that I had written.
But I have to tell you that I was disappointed in some of the response. There were well over 50 different people who posted a comment. Many agreed. Some offered balance. But more than a few felt a strong need to correct me - some at great length. Now, I don't mind correction. My wife knows I need a lot of it (not to mention everyone in my church). But the correction was a bit ironic because it tended to embody the very problem that my post was addressing - they were more interested in telling me how wrong I was than in really understanding what I had to say (only a handful of people contacted me directly to gain a fuller understanding of my thinking).
As I read the comments I found myself reading the first few sentences to determine if I'd bother to read more. If the tone was negative or clearly off-target I skipped it. I could tell that they misunderstood me and were just looking for an excuse to rant. I wasn't there to listen to that so I checked out.
Then I realized that that's what people do every Sunday with me or any preacher that comes across in the same way. When we are more interested in telling what we know than connecting with the true concerns of our audience, they will check out...every time. That was the point in Why I Don't Like Church and ironically my critics proved it!
I'm sure the percentage of critics to readers was small. That's good. But it's sad that the critics often get the most ink, isn't it? And the taste in my mouth from the experience was a little tainted. It makes me less eager to get feedback. I'm afraid that's exactly why many people are slow to return to church.