How Do you Provide a Personal Touch In an Impersonal World?
During a time of restricted personal interaction, we have had to get creative in how we connect with one another. Many of you have heard me refer to “social media” as the “anti-social media,” because it provides a way for me to communicate with people without having to have a personal relationship with them. Additionally, it has created an environment where people say inflammatory things they would never say if they were face-to-face with someone.
But, I have to admit that the anti-social media has proven to be a valuable tool and even a lifesaver in recent weeks. However, instead of looking forward to calling someone I’ve never met a friend, it has provided me a way to stay connected with family, friends, and co-workers.
During multiple conversations with pastors on dozens of zoom meetings, I have consistently heard stories of how they are using technology to stay connected with people. And it goes way beyond putting sermons or worship services on-line. Personal phone calls, text messages, zoom meetings, and prayer notes are just a few of the ways pastors are caring for their flocks. Let me share two somewhat “old-fashioned” ways that have been used to put a personal touch on things.
One was by Pastor Aaron Householder of Southview Baptist Church in Lincoln. He had his secretary put together church member’s addresses in specific areas of the city, and then he stops by for a quick visit: rings the doorbell, steps back the prescribed social distance, and visits with those who came to the door. What he anticipated would be a quick ten-minute stop, has often turned into a 30+ minute, greatly appreciated conversation.
Another example was used by Kelly Wallace who is the children’s minister at LifeSpring Church in Bellevue. She bought A BUNCH of ding dongs and made snack sacks for each of the church families who had preschoolers or children (yes they were prepared in a hyper-sensitive sanitized manner). Then she enlisted volunteers who went to each home. They rang the doorbells (ding dong) and using approved socially distanced methods, they shared the snack sacks which along with the ding dongs included a cute card that said, “Knock knock. Who's there? Justin. Justin who? Just in the neighborhood and thought we’d say hello and we miss you!"
When I heard the story, I asked Kelly, when’s the last time you went to the home of all your families? The answer was never—we wouldn’t normally have time to do it. I affirmed her efforts and suggested that the children and their parents will always remember that you stopped by. And not just because of the ding dongs or the cute card, but because you cared enough to provide a personal touch in the midst of a very impersonal world.
Retiring in April 2022, Mark R. Elliott served as a Director of Missions (Associational Mission Strategist) in Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska for almost three decades. He is a strong advocate for obedience and Biblically based disciple making. As such, he knows that making healthy disciples requires Christian leaders to be constantly pursuing spiritual maturity—be lifelong learners. Because of the time constraints of ministry, most pastors focus their reading list on resources that assist them in teaching and preaching the Word of God. As such, books focusing on church health, leadership development, and church growth tend to find their way to the bottom of the stack. With that reality in mind, Mark has written discussion summaries on several books that have helped him to personally grow in Christ and that tend to find themselves on the bottom of most pastor’s stack. Many pastors have found them helpful as they are able to more quickly process great insights from other pastors and authors.