Definitions Are Important

Because my office number is forwarded to my mobile phone I get the normal telemarketer calls that come to the church office even when I’m away from my office. This is convenient, but not always.

If I’m not busy with someone or in a spot where I can’t take a call I’ll let it go on to voice mail. I had just pulled into a parking stall at the hospital yesterday and my phone began to ring. I didn’t recognize the number as an Idaho number but I answered “Eastside Baptist Church, this is Paul” anyway.

The phone conversation went like this…

Person on the phone was kind and professional; “Hello, Paul, can I speak to the person in charge of ministering to your children or youth?”

Striving to be kind, I asked “maybe you can help me understand what you mean by ‘the person in charge of ministering to our children and youth?'”

Person on the phone, still kind and professional, but clearly confused by my need for clarity said, “I don’t know what you mean? Do you have a children or youth pastor I could talk to?”

I don’t ever want to be snarky with a well meaning person doing their job, I really don’t. I get that they are doing their job and respect this of them, but I also don’t want to waist their time or mine so I only asked one more question, “Oh, well, what is your definition of a children/youth pastor?”

Getting to the bottom of the reason for the call, the salesperson simply said, “Who is in charge of fund raising for your children and youth ministry?”

This kind of information on the front end would have saved both of us some time.

Granted, a person hired to call churches to get them to hire them as their “fund raiser” is doing a job and will hope to be rewarded for doing a good job. They have no idea when they call the next phone number on their list of Southern Baptist Churches what they are in for when they call Eastside Baptist Church.

It would have been overwhelming to this salesperson if I gave them the phone number to every father and mother in our church. Because that’s who I consider to be in charge of our children and youth ministry. Plus I don’t think all the parents would appreciate me giving out their phone numbers either.

I concluded the conversation politely and kind and just said, “We don’t have anyone in charge of fund raising in our church. Thanks for calling and I hope you have a great day.”

Definitions are important. We do have ministry to children and youth in our church, they thought we were like every other church, we care about all who attend our church, they have learned that churches are a good place to generate revenue.

Has the church been reduced to little more than a potential group of fund raisers? I hope not. I don’t mind defining what I mean and I don’t mind knowing what others mean when they call.

“Thanks for calling and I hope you have a great day.”

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