I know what Aunt Agnes feels like. You know Aunt Agnes. She is your weird single aunt, who lives in a different community, who is quite wealthy and gives really nice gifts. You love receiving Christmas and birthday cards from her because she was always generous. But you did not really care to hang around her too much because she was old and weird, she was not really cool, your friends wouldn't care for her, and you had better things to do, until your birthday of Christmas.
We all have persons in our life like that, who can give us stuff we need: wealthy members, influential leaders, socially connected persons, relatives of influential people. They are not really our circle of intimate friends until we need something.
Over the last months I have been amazed at how many "missions" and "ministries" are friends of Montecito Covenant Church. They are passing through southern California and would love to give a word of witness and share what they are doing in ministry. Sometimes dinner comes with it and a request for me to invited some church members, sometimes even with the foreknowledge of which members I should invite. Funny thing is that the list never contains single parents, retired pastors, or college students. The names, instead, are of those members who I already know are tapped on to give to all sorts of great causes, sit on boards and councils and lead fnd-raising events. I feel like Aunt Agnes, who knows it must be someone's birthday because now they are showing up to cut the lawn.
I was delighted last Sunday when our Conference Superintedent, Evelyn Johnson, turned to me and said, "So, what is exciting about life and ministry at Montecito these days?" She was not selling or asking, but listening. I need to fight cynicism these days because of where I serve. Many assume that the zip code of the church means piles of money. Some even joke about it. But I serve a church filled with great people who need Jesus, who need hope, who need the assurance of forgiveness, not another pitch.