by: Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan
Lately, I’ve been getting strange text messages. There is a phone number given as the sender. Then, there is a message: “Hi.” Or, “hi.”
Sometimes the message has more content. Last week, I got a message from an unknown phone number that read, “It’s such a nice day. Want to get some coffee?”
I didn’t respond. Someone who knows me knows I don’t drink much coffee. If they had invited me for ice cream, I’d have been tempted.
I got one anonymous message that said, “I really need some help today. Can you help me?”
Nope, not going to help you. That is, I’m not going to help you hurt me.
Because I know (and I hope you, dear reader, know) that these are prefaces to a scam. If you answer, the computer that sent out those thousands of “hi” messages will know that your phone number is real and live. Once you respond, the scammer can call your number to let you know that you have won a wonderful sweepstakes or that the IRS needs more payment – right now. All you need to do to claim the prize or deter the IRS is give the scammer your personal information and credit card number. Once the scammer has that information, you risk identity theft and/or charges to your card that you did not make.
I’d rather not go there, so I delete the message as soon as I get it. It’s possible that I’ve missed out on some free coffee. It’s possible that a friend in need no longer thinks I am a friend indeed. That the chance I am willing to take.
What’s this have to do with church life?
Recently, I read an article written by an associate pastor. He was shocked by a comment his senior pastor made. “John,” the pastor said, “you need to know that you’ve gotten a bad reputation for treating people as slot-fillers. They see you and they turn the other way, because they know you’re about to ask them to do something.” Then, the pastor gave wise advice. “The church is not about programs. It’s about relationships. Just love them for a while. They’ll come looking for you when they know you love them before you need them.”
We who are in need of leaders or chaperones or gifts to the food pantry are not scammers. But there is a lesson here. The church member may intuit that responding to our seemingly innocent “hi” could lead to an arm-twisting recruitment for a lifetime commitment to fill some slot in the church. Love them before you recruit them.
These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He has served in various roles from the local church to state and national leadership. Contact him for more information on how he can help you.