Those poor pews.
Early on in a pastor friend of mine’s new call, she heard from a parishoner (a worshiper and congregational member) that the pews in the sanctuary were being unduly scratched and irreparably harmed. The person pointed to people wearing jeans and dress slacks with bejeweled butts as the problem. Apparently this was a major issue that was harming the church. The person that was pointing out this major concern wanted the pastor’s blessing to do something about this.
Ideas and approaches that were offered to the pastor:
- Have a regular announcement about proper attire in worship.
- Provide a printed notice in the pews asking people to kindly refrain from wearing such pants, and if wearing such things to make sure that people sat on their coats as a form of cushion for the wood.
- Write a monthly newsletter article explaining the importance of this matter.
As you might guess, my pastor friend was a little caught off guard by the whole issue. How would my pastor friend reply to this congregant’s major concerns?
She obviously was not going to ban people for their attire, and there would be no message about what is proper and not proper attire to wear in worship. For a pastor who values a “come as you are” approach to the gospel, anything less would not be consistent. But these ideas were not the ones that she thought would be a helpful response to this parishoner’s concerns.
After a few moments of contemplation my pastor friend said, “you know the bejeweled butts aren’t really a problem.” The parishoner stunned, asked, “Why? How can that be?” My pastor friend responded, “To have a bejeweled butt is not cheap.”
“Ah,” the parishoner said, “they might be big givers.”
That wasn’t exactly the point my pastor friend was going for, but it worked. Sometimes to create a more welcoming environment, you have to think strategically about how you have others see what their “issues” and concerns are in a new light. In this case, it worked. One person’s concerns about a certain attire was relieved by a sort of stewardship observation.
The trick for my pastor friend, and all leaders, is to continue to help people see that what sometimes might seem like a big deal really is not a big deal at all in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get caught up in the small things, and focus on the bigger picture.
Maybe bejeweled butts aren’t the problem after all.
Image Credit: Bejeweled Jeans