Anonymous Notes

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by USN2Pulpit, May 24, 2005.

  1. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
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    Almost two years into this ministry and I just received my first "anonymous note." I wondered if I ever would - and how it would affect me.

    This sounds like a typical story I've heard on the subject. There was a letter with no return address on it that felt as though there was nothing in it...so I knew what it was before I opened it. Inside was a slip of paper with some "sage" instructions - also with no name attached.

    Although I am careful to listen to any well-intentioned advice, this one is so ridiculous, I'm tempted to disregard it completely.

    A few questions, then:

    </font>
    • Do I make the fact known to the church body that I have received this anonymous note? The handwriting is unique - as well as a unique scripture translation being used - and I believe most people would figure out who this note came from.</font>
    • Do I completely disregard it, or try and bring help in some manner to its author?</font>
    • Do I let the author know that I know who they are?</font>
     
  2. Dave G.

    Dave G.
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    What does it say? How ridiculous is it?
     
  3. PastorSBC1303

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    My advice is to tear it up in little pieces and throw it in the trash can and forget it. If the person does not have the backbone to sign a letter or come and talk to you face to face then there is no reason to give attention to it.

    I would not share with the church that you received it. That would just give the person much needed attention.

    If you have an idea of who wrote it, I would pray for them and look for ways to reach out and help them in the future. But I would not dwell on it.

    Focus on the positive that is going on. Run with those who want to run. Let those who want to detract do it by themselves.

    God bless your ministry!
     
  4. TexasSky

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    I would tear it up.

    If Christ really put it on the person's heart to tell you, they should not be afraid to identify themself as the source to you. If they want to avoid publicity, they should trust you enough to ask you to keep their identity private.
     
  5. All about Grace

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    Read it from the stage next week and ask if anyone knows who wrote it. Evidently they forgot to put their name. Or post it on a bulletin board in a prominent place and let people know it is there to be read since someone forgot to put their name on it.

    Just kidding (a little).

    Actually I have received numerous anonymous notes in my ministry. I have handled them different ways. Most of the time I simply ignore them. At times I will mention them from the stage in a context that lets people know that we are going to focus on reaching and not on keeping and if you do not have the guts to talk to me in person or put your name on a letter, you would probably be more comfortable in a church that caters to the insiders instead of the outsiders.

    Of course empathy is not my spiritual gift so my method may not always be the preferred one ;)
     
  6. Pastor Larry

    Pastor Larry
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    Consider it for truth and change as needed. Don't throw it out as irrelevant just because someone didn't sign their name. They were wrong to do that, but don't waste the opportunity. If you know who it is, go to them and talk to them. Thank them for their note and talk about what you are doing to change.
     
  7. USN2Pulpit

    USN2Pulpit
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    In truth, this was my first impulse. I figure that by the time their disgruntled enough to start sending anonymous notes, they're better off leaving anyway.

    I'm just surprised it took this long. Trouble is, conditions at church don't agree with those that are bitter:

    </font>
    • Attendance is up - way up.</font>
    • Offerings are up - way up.</font>
    • We've had more baptisms in the last year and a half than the previous 3 years combined.</font>
    • Through individual's outreach, we are seeing more new faces than ever before - and having a chance to minister to them.</font>
    • ;) Our float - based on our VBS them - won the "Harvest Festival" parade (much to the chagrin of our miniscule group of naysayers.)</font>
    I'm really not disheartened about this at all - and that surprises me, as sensitive as I can be! I just want to do the right thing.
     
  8. Timtoolman

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    Are you approachable? You have to be careful what you say to our pastor at times or it becomes a pulpit message. Which is also not right because the people only hear one side. If you feel that your people consider you approachable then anounce that you do not take any stock in people who will not talk to you face to face. Let them know that you can take constructive cristisim and there is no need to send anonymous notes. Disregard the note unless someone is willing too step up.
     
  9. patrick

    patrick
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    As a minister if someone is gutless, I will ignore the message. I have made mistakes but I own up to them. I hope you feel the same way. These are the same that say "they said". They just want to get under your skin!!!!
     
  10. USN2Pulpit

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    Timtoolman, your point is valid, of course. I hope that I'm approachable, and have taken great pains not to use the pulpit as my personal soapbox.

    I plan and outline messages several weeks in advance, and many times the message arrives on just the day it's needed. I credit the Holy Spirit with that work, because it's not me. At the same time though, I'm sure people have accused me of tailoring a message to them personally.

    I try to preach the Word only...let it convict who it convicts, but when people get their toes mashed, it doesn't feel to comfortable.
     
  11. exscentric

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    I read with interest, this seems to be taken as if it is completely wrong without a hint of, there might be a good reason why it is anonymous.

    Why understand it as sinister? It might be a well thought out criticism from the person with a reason why they do not want to identify themselves. It is their viewpoint and need not be yours if you disagree. I'm with pastor larry - check yourself honestly before the Lord to see if there might be some validity, then move on.

    Embarrassing them in public would not gain much of value, except maybe make you feel good.

    Why is it okay to use anonymous poems but not accept notes from the same people? JOKE! :)

    One of our pastors told me something years ago that made a ton of sense. I was janitor and found neighbors putting trash in our church dumpster. I found an envelope with their address on it, so showed it to him and he said he would take care of it.

    He tacked the envelope and a church business card to the persons front door. He said his grandfather told him never to do anything or say anything that would hinder you witnessing or ministering to the person in the future.
     
  12. USN2Pulpit

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    Of course there's a good reason it's anonymous. The author knows they're on shaky ground and they don't want public attention to their selfishness and jealosy - but prefer to work in the shadows to undermine instead of doing things in the light of day.
     
  13. All about Grace

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    I have never received an anonymous note that was meant to further the ministry or the direction of the church. If a person refuses to sign their name to complaints, they do not deserve a hearing or personal reflection.

    By the way, every strong leader I have ever known or followed has been accused at some level of being "unapproachable." And since we are on the subject, I am very unapproachable when it comes to issues that have no bearing on eternity. There is too much at stake to waste time trying to convince the insiders. I would rather spend my time and energy reaching the outsiders.

    It is also ironic to me that in my own experience those who accused me of being unapproachable never made an effort to approach me. It is simply easier to launch missles from a distance or anonymously.

    Focus on reaching and not on keeping.

    Stepping off my soap box now....
     
  14. Karen

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  15. PastorSBC1303

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    Exactly Right! [​IMG]

    If someone has a legitimate concern or issue then they come to you and talk about it. Or atleast they will have the courage to sign the note. If a person is not willing to do one of these two things, then there is no reason to take their note seriously.
     
  16. Pastor Larry

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    Aren't you assuming an awful lot? Would you say the say thing about an anonymous note of encouragement? It seems to me that you are really speaking more than you have any reason to know about. I am not in favor of anonymous notes. I think they are taking the easy way out. But I would certainly caution you, or anyone else, about reading sinister motives in, especially since no one here knows what the note said, who wrote it, and whether or not there was truth in it.
     
  17. Pastor Larry

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    So you think someone who doesn't sign their name never has any valid viewpoints? They very well may be right in what they say, even though they are wrong in how they say it. Whenever we get criticism, we ought to take the time to prayerfully consider what is said, regardless of the source. If something is true, it doesn't matter who it comes from. It needs to be changed.

    And?? So what?? Does that make it right?

    I will sign my name to this statement: You need to give this some serious thought. It seems to show great disregard for the conscience of people God has placed under your ministry. There is no glory in being unapproachable. There are many important issues that have no bearing on eternity. God has called you to pastor a group of people as well as reach outsiders. Don't forget to pastor the people God has given to you. Larry

    Why? I see no reason for such a statement. Keeping people is called discipleship. It is the mandate of the church, and is to be led by the pastor. Sometimes sheep are stinky animals, stubborn and hard to get along with, but be glad God focuses on keeping you, and turn that into a desire to keep the flock he has given you.
     
  18. PastorSBC1303

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    Pastor Larry, you are comparing apples and oranges with encouragement notes and complaint notes. They are left anonymous for completely different reasons.
     
  19. Pastor Larry

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    That may be, but it was said that people who leave anonymous notes are on shaky ground and that they should always be discounted. I was pointing out that no one actually believes that. They only believe it when they are criticized ... which no one wants to hear anyway. A person writing an anonymous note may not be on shaky ground. He may be absolutely right. It is a gross overstatement to say that an anonymous note is written because the author knows he is on shaky ground. He may be a coward; he may have other reasons for being anonymous, like not wanting to embarrass you, not wanting to jeopardize a relationship, etc. If a pastor has created an atmosphere where people are scared to talk to him, he probably more than anyone needs to read the anonymous notes.

    In 10+ years of being a pastor, I have never received an anonymous note. I have heard of complaints and rumors, and when I did, I went to the people and asked them about it. Some of hte complaints were legitimate and some were not. But I have learned the hard way to deal with things head on, and not ignore them because they were anonymous.

    It is pure folly to disregard a note simply because it was unsigned. It may have some much needed truth that must be heard. Nobody is beyond criticism.
     
  20. All about Grace

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    I think if they criticize anonymously, they invalidate their right to be heard.

    It simply means that any time you lead with a God-given vision and authority, some will always accuse you of being unapproachable (most often translated -- I didn't get my way).

    Love everybody but move with the movers.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but I simply refuse to waste my time focusing on the trivial when the eternal is at stake.

    Can you point me to an instance in the NT where Jesus catered to someone with an agenda that distracted from matters of eternity?

    No one is suggesting discipleship is not important. What I am stating is that we are to focus on reaching people with the gospel and not attempting to appease those who are internally focused. Obviously I want to keep each sheep that God has provided, but when a sheep begins to become more concerned over the corral or over the grass it is fed or the other sheep, then that sheep distracts from the eternal purpose of the church. It should not be catered or pampered. It should be corrected and if it refuses to change its way, it can find another pasture.

    There are too many lost sheep to worry about the ones safe in the pin who constantly gripe about what is going on in the pin. Eternity is too long to focus inwardly.

    I reiterate -- focus on reaching and not on keeping.
     

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