Last Sunday I preached at Lincoln Road Bible Chapel. My first Sunday preaching outside KCC. Some of my Kiwi "European" church members tried to make me nervous by teasing me about how I need to be extra careful about my accent, speed and mannerism etc because the congregation would find it hard to understand me ... unlike them who had gotten used to me :-)
Well, it wasn't as tough as they made it out to be ... phew! Was interesting though ... As part of my introduction I "apologized" ahead of time that I was not a "politically correct" person and that if anyone had a problem with what I said, to please let me know after the service. LOL. Not even sure why I said that as it was not in my script.
I certainly was not very politically correct and it would have been hard to be too due to the topic I was asked to preach on (relates to migrants adapting and serving in NZ). Anyway I did things like tell stories about my "unscientific research" of Kiwi approachability ... giving PI people the highest scores, Kiwi-Europeans a decent score and most Asians the lowest scores ... but then I also made a comment on how no one (except the chairman and one of the elders who knew me) spoke to me despite my sitting alone for 30 minutes before the service began. I was also dressed in suit and tie so it would have been clear too that I stood out (very "Westie" church so most were causally attired) and was clearly a visitor.
Long story short, quite a number made a bee line for me! LOL. But they were positive with one
man (Kiwi European) telling me how happy he was that I made such un PC comments - he had been coming to the church for 8 weeks in a row and he says ... "nobody" talked to him and his wife and he was praying about whether he should leave the church or not. Yikes!! Good part is that part of my message was adapting and listening to God about where He has placed us and blessing others in order to be be blessed.
He told me that her was going to stay! (Whew! Big sigh of relief). One key factor I gathered was his appreciation of LRBC's pastor because he made the effort to visit him. Another reminder to me from God about how crucial visitation is for some people!! (Though in my church quite a few are really not keen about me coming to visit! :-)) What was nice too was that when this guy told me this, I was talking to one of the church elders, so he got to hear this man's comments and apologized to him, and so they were able to connect. This poor church elder was away for 4 weeks so he did not realize this. BTW seems he was in Malaysia for the Missions conference and met people from PJGH who knew me... hmmm... I wonder what kind of impression he must have gotten about me! LOL
Anyway only one person challenged me on my "no one took the time to talk to me" remark and told me in a very nice way that people usually talked to visitors after the service not before the service. He was nice but the 8 weeks visiting story is quite a rebuttal.
LRBC people are nice and my church has a long history of close relationships with the leaders and people of this church. Many of the core group of people that helped restart KCC 13 years ago came from LRBC. As I reflected on the comments and conversations with these church members, it made me more convinced (if there is such a thing) that my push for a well developed ushering ministry is so crucial as visitors can be missed out if no one keeps a special eye out for them.
I had a few other interesting conversations with members and one that stood out because it was so funny was this Kiwi European couple who told me they enjoyed listening to my accent. Huh?!! Were they being sarcastic? I found out they meant what they said as they lived in Singapore for 6 years and they missed their Singapore's pastors preaching. The accent and I think style brought back fond memories! LOL
Oh and I also uploaded my Pastor's Notes for 31 May 09 bulletin. for those who read it.