As I was preparing to write this article and introduce the topic of the importance of personal communications, including how we communicate on the phone, my husband who is a bi-vocational pastor (unpaid pastoral position at church, handyman for income) came home for lunch and shared this story with me.
My husband was doing some repairs on the mobile home next door to the home of a Christian man who passed away a few days earlier. The son was in town to take care of the details for the funeral. The mother was frail and both parents had not been able to attend church consistently over the last couple of years because of ill health. The son wanted to hold his father's funeral at the church they had attended for a number of years in the past.
He shared with my husband, over the course of a couple of days, his attempts to reach the church to arrange the funeral. He left messages. He talked to one person and was referred to another. He left more messages. He himself was a pastor and told my husband that the family had over 100 relatives in town who would be coming to the service, most of whom who were not Christians. After a few days of not receiving a call back, he decided to hold the funeral service at the clubhouse of the mobile home community and he, the son, would do the service. Other than being an emotional support and encouragement, my husband was extremely sad and frustrated as he told me the story. I'm making it sound over-spiritual--I think my husband wanted to punch somebody--but knew that would not be appropriate.
Obviously somebody dropped the ball in a big way in this situation, but these days of answering machines in churches that route calls to answering systems of staff, it's not hard to imagine this happening. Who knows why this happened, but what could have been a time to personally minister to a hurting family and unreached friends became a situation of sadness, resentment and pain--all because phone messages were not answered. [Read more...]