By Payton Isner, Staff Writer
I have been attending the same church for a little over 10 years. In that span of time, I have graduated elementary, middle and high school, began college, gained and lost friendships, learned to drive, fallen in love, fallen out of love and so much more. Ten years is a lot of time for someone to be in one place, including a church. Yet, even after 10 years, almost no one at my church knows who I am.
I did not grow up going to church. In fact, I did not start attending until 4th grade, when one day, my friend asked me to go with him so he could win a PlayStation Portable for “Bring Your Friend to Church Day.” I happily obliged, excited to be a part of the festivities, and was so astounded at the place that I kept car-pooling back every week.
But here we are, and 10 years later still no one knows my name. You may think this is an exaggeration, but I promise you it is not. For context, let me explain. I’ve participated in a fair number of church productions, including two in the past three years. Every time, I’ll be walking around greeting people afterwards and I’ll hear, “Are you new? I haven’t seen you around before!”
I always put on a half-smile and say, “I’m easy to miss!” We laugh, they ask my name, and then walk away. Little do they know, a year later, they’ll come back up to me after the same performance and say the exact same line. “Are you new? I haven’t seen you around before!”
I have an excuse for not being noticed, and by no means is this an article meant to shame those who forget me. I am forgettable. In the 10 years I’ve been attending church, I haven’t sat in a pew and listened to a service for the last five. Instead, I’m behind the stage, in a room with six other volunteers, orchestrating the technology that makes modern-day church services run.
I love that job. Nothing fascinates me more than technology. Using my skills and passions for the Kingdom is a perfect fit. My issue herein lies with the people who don’t notice me because they don’t care to. There are thousands of individuals just like me in churches across America, a dozen or so in my own church, who sacrifice weekends and nights to put on a service for you on Sunday morning. We ensure that when you are home sick, you can watch church online. If you are late, you can still see from the back because you can watch from the big screen hanging behind the pulpit.
As Christians, we’re taught to recognize and respect everyone, but too often we fail to apply that right at home in our own communities. Churches are meant to be homes, but we can’t possibly expect to open our doors to strangers and offer them a place of haven if we can’t even remember the names of the most involved members. I’ve spoken with my pastor about this subject numerous times, and he by no means has forgotten me. However, he told me in words that I cannot hope to match, “If we’re going to fight for the Kingdom of God, we better at least remember the names of who is on our side.”