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They Can’t Get Out

July 7, 2014

In his opening sermon at our Annual Conference this year, Bishop Keaton named two groups with one quick  passing comment.  I whipped out my pocket notebook and scribbled down both groups.

The Shut Ins was the first group.

Let’s be honest: no matter how much your pastor tries, it’s never going to be enough.

There will always be someone who was active in your church years ago but by now has slid off the radar.

There are people who quietly but faithfully came to worship and maybe even Sunday School.  Something happened and they got out of the habit.

There are people who claim your church as theirs because they joined you for worship on Christmas Eve not long ago.  It really wasn’t that long ago, maybe just five or ten years ago, right?

You and I could go on and on naming people and their situations and reasons and why they’re part of The Shut Ins. But like what we try to do as pastors, that’s never going to be enough.

Pastors come and go, especially in our United Methodist way of doing things.  But you have a history, however long and however deep, with The Shut Ins of your church.

You’ve been thinking of someone as you’ve been reading this.

Pick up your phone and call that person.  See if there’s a time this week you could go by for a visit.  At the very least, let her or him know that your church remembers and cares.

Maybe you’ll learn something that would be helpful for your pastor to know; please share that with her or him.

And I’d love to hear how this part of your ministry goes.

See you back here tomorrow as we think together about the second group our Bishop mentioned.



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  1. Janet permalink

    There you go again, encouraging us to do what we should have already be doing. Thanks.

  2. I was thinking of someone when I was writing a comment for today’s (October 21, 2014) entry, and feeling ashamed. I no longer attend or hold membership at the church I grew up in, though I did for many years before moving my membership after my children were grown because of one of those ministers the UMC thought was best for our congregation as he was focused on growing congregations and building new buildings. However, I help a friend who cares for her mother with dementia. They live in a part of town that is truly in the woods. They are Catholic. One of those Sunday school teachers and church members that have formed my Faith is now a shut-in in her home in another part of the woods. I am back there, sometimes two to three times a week and I keep planning to leave time to go that direction and spend some time with Nettie. I am always late to be somewhere else or I have groceries that will melt if I don’t get them home (I usually take them shopping as they have no car). I must now consciously remember the next time! I feel guilty.

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