One of my tasks as an associate pastor was to go through the list of people who were on the rolls, but didn't come to church anymore. My task was to visit these people, find out why they chose not to attend the church anymore, and then try to convince them to give it another try. So late one morning I went out to visit an elderly gentleman who was on the church rolls, but never attended.
He had a beautiful house, quite large and elaborate, not unusual for the members of that congregation. We sat down in the living room to talk and after a little chit chat he informed me that he had some friends he needed to join for a round of golf – clearly, he was not thrilled that his wife had said yes to me coming to visit that day.
I asked him if he had been playing golf long, or if he was just learning to play the game. He looked at me as if I was completely out of my mind and blurted out, "Don't you know who I am? How could you say an insulting thing like that?"
Now, I had no idea who he was, to me, he was a name on a list of church non-attendees that I needed to visit. To me, he was just an fairly well off retired American who wasn’t going to church
Well, he got quite animated and told me that not only was he a retired professional golfer, but that he was also a retired professional baseball pitcher. He went on and on about the tournaments he had won and about the different professional baseball teams he had played for. Well, I'm not a sports guy, and so all of his references just had me drawing a blank. Finally, exasperated he led me to his trophy room.
His trophy room was lined with trophies and awards. There were signed baseball bats and gloves. There were piles of old baseballs, several sets of golf clubs and quite a few old photographs. He led me over to the photos and pointed himself out, clearly a player for professional baseball teams. "What do you think of all this?" he inquired at the exact same time that I blurted out – "Hey I know these guys, that's the Mr. Coffee guy, Joe DiMaggio and that's Mickey Mantle." Indeed, the man I was visiting was in uniform in the photo standing next right next to Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.
All this turned out to be too much for this man. He shouted at me, "You recognize Joe DiMaggio and you recognize Mickey Mantle, but you don't know who I am!" and he ushered me right out of the house.
As I walked to my car, I thought, "THAT didn’t go too well," realizing that he certainly wasn't coming back to church anytime soon.
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