My loss

sadness 2I have called North Point my church family for over 21 years.  As much as I want to be “just one of the guys”, I understand that with responsibility, comes expectations and clarity. And, for the most part, I’m okay with that.

One of the things I’ve always struggled with, though, is the loss of friendship.

I recognize the line between my job as a minister and my life as simply part of our church family is completely blurred.  Some of that is because it is required of me…some because it’s just the way I am.  But no matter which way you cut it, I’m fully invested.

I’m not naive.  I know that through the years, there have been people who considered North Point their church family who left because of me.  Maybe they disagreed with something I said.  Maybe they felt I neglected them. Maybe they considered me a poor leader.   Maybe they didn’t like my hair style.  Maybe they just don’t like me very much.

It’s how some people have come to understand the church.  It’s how some people have come to understand relationships.  I don’t like it.  I wish it were different,  but ultimately, I’ve learned to be okay with all of that.  I have to be.

No, the part that is really difficult for me is when people decide to leave North Point for reasons other than me, and I lose our friendship in the process. (For the record, I draw a deep distinction between being a friend and having a friendship. One takes little time and little effort.  The other takes a huge dose of both).

Again, I understand that North Point isn’t for everybody.  Maybe they just don’t want to be part of a church family at all anymore.  Or maybe it could be that others are looking for different things in church families: programs for their children…a certain kind of Sunday morning show…the “right” kind of people…opportunities for serving…doctrinal purity…whatever.

And North Point certainly can’t be all things for all people.  We don’t want to be.

But it still cuts deeply that I have to lose friendships when people decide we aren’t what they are looking for.  Because once they leave North Point, nothing is ever the same.  I lose our time together.  I lose connection.  I lose sharing life. I lose partnership.  I simply lose touch.  And there will never be the time to make it up.

All against my will.  And I hate it.

And I’m always left to wonder if they feel the same way about the loss of me.

I’m kind of whiny tonight.  Blame it on the sternum saw…





13 thoughts on “My loss

  1. Business has a unique approach to this kind of issue. They gather information constantly from their customers about what they liked and what they disliked. Then, after assimilating, changes are made. This process goes on continuously and is call quality improvement. The church, in general, rejects this approach and keeps doing things the same way over and over and expects a different result. Why do people leave? Their spirit needs and expectations are not met usually, God is not present, and they are hopeless to see any improvement and left with only one path. Personally, I do not look to find a church, I look to find God. These two are not the same thing. I am sorry for your loss of friendships and this does hurt, but we remain the family of God. I am sure your friendships were fruitful for both and do not be afraid to reach out and do whatever you can to water and feed each others lives. We must do whatever we can with whatever we have and know that God will use this in ways you would never believe.

  2. I’m sorry you are feeling whinny… There sternum saw is a good reason.

    I found myself thinking a lot about friendships hear of late as well.
    I’m 2009 I found myself being rushed into emergency surgery for a strangulated hernia. Two weeks later I was back in surgery removing the mesh used to repair the hernia because it was infected. I was told I would have a small pouch and to wear a binder to hold it in. Little did I know it would grow to the size of a basketball. In 2011 my doctor told me I needed to get a hospital bed and get in it and have my family become my caregivers. Depression set in and I shut out everyone I knew, despite their attempts to reach me. Eventually they gave up trying to reach me and now I have began to feel the loss. Illness has consumed my family and we have become recluses.
    I have been telling myself that we can come back from this… I believe we can and will by God’s grace and guidance.

    Continuing to pray for your recovery.

    1. I know things have been really, really difficult for all of you. I will continue to pray for you. Others will, as well. Becoming reclusive is both expected and understandable, but you know we are family and the door stays open and the light is always on for when you are ready to come back.

  3. I hope this doesn’t make you want to leave but I am here to stay. Take that as a promise or a threat, but also take it as truth.

  4. I never understand why people leave without saying why. I respect their decision but it leaves one to wonder. Could we have done things differently, were we fulfilling their needs as a church family, were we too clickish, did they not feel welcome,… The questions are endless.

    What I find most interesting is that northpoint seems to be a resting place for people. They get away from the rigor of church life as they knew it. We don’t force membership. We don’t force participation. We basically leave people be. We don’t have the normal church programs that you find in larger churches. We don’t turn people away. We don’t judge people.

    We LOVE people. That is what I see at Northpoint. That is what I feel at Northpoint.

    It’s the only church where I feel completely at home in my own skin.

    Friendships come and go. Those based on love flourish and grow into beautiful things. Those that are only skin deep die. They serve a purpose for both parties.

    I go back to Colossians 3:12-14

    Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

    Mike, you and Wanda do a great job of living out this scripture. Remember that Love binds all. Just because someone leaves, does not mean they are not your friends. You gave them what they were searching for and they went on their own way. You planted a seed and unfortunately, don’t get to watch it grow.

    Not necesssrily a bad thing. It hurts, but know that you were a light in their world for a time. You served your purpose in their life and gave them tools to succeed on their journey.

    Harsh words, but true ones.

  5. Sometimes people leave because they lose themselves. Feel overwhelmed by what they perceive the church, even one as laid back as NP expects them to be or thinks that they are. So they wander. Sometimes for many, many years. Make good life decisions and some terrible ones too, all in the name of searching for what they are, who they are meant to be. And when they finally figure it out, they never really feel sure if they can go back. It’s the friendships they had that always make them wonder though.

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