Inappropriate places to meet for financial support.

Last week I told you about Sherri (and lest you go off thinking that you know Sherri, that wasn’t her real name… that’s not how we roll. We’re not interested in skewering individuals. Just concepts and funny stories.)

We did finally end up scheduling an appointment with her that did not involve running, or trails, or dogs. We found a place much more indoors, but surprisingly only about 4% more conducive to conversation.

We met with her on a Sunday morning, at our church, in the auditorium mere minutes before the worship service started.

Chalk it up to a rookie mistake, even though we had both been in vocational ministry for more than 3 years at that point, but we definitely could not have anticipated how distracting it can be to meet with a prospective ministry partner in a becoming-crowded auditorium.

Here are just a few of the factors that weighed into this making our top 10 most memorable MPD appointments(in a “my most memorable root canal” sort of way):

We forgot to factor in coffee.

Our church at the time was a veritable coffee shop, pre-service. They even had their own house blend. (I’m not making that up!) It was encouraged to get a cup of coffee and a pastry before you entered the auditorium for the worship service. And when we scheduled the appointment, we neglected to factor in enough time to get coffee. By the time we sat down to actually talk about financial support, we had 15 minutes before the band started playing. Nothing encourages heartfelt connection like 15 minutes of conversation interspersed with people interrupting you to say good morning before church.

We know people here. And so does she.

Meeting someone in a place where you are both guaranteed to know roughly 125 people is like Michael Jordan going to a public park for a relaxing stroll. OK, we didn’t have any paparazzi swing by during our support spiel, but other than that, it was pretty similar. Just when you think you are going to get to the part you came here for, somebody wants to shake your hand. I didn’t have to sign any autographs, though, so that was nice.

She brought out-of-town family with her.

As though it’s not hard enough to build rapport with a stranger in 15 minutes, try and add in building that same rapport with her 70-year-old mom from Ohio while you’re at it. Oh, and do all of that in row-style seating that puts you roughly 12 feet away from her mom. Eventually, throughout our “presentation,” mom just started nodding in a “please stop trying to include me, I can’t hear you at all” sort of way. Which just made me talk louder. There were people turning around to see what all the fuss was about from at least 4 rows in front of me. And I got the distinct impression that I had a better chance of them supporting me than Sherri. I wasn’t yelling at their mom.

Our church wasn’t big on the direct ask.

Some churches are big on the direct ask, pass-a-plate sort of thing when it comes to money. Our church at the time consisted mainly of folks who were in some way damaged by their previous interactions with the church. For many that had to do with how money was abused and the doctrines surrounding money were misunderstood, at best. That translated to what I feel like was a pretty wise stance regarding money on the part of the pastors. They were not big on the direct ask. So to plop ourselves down on row 13 and have an overly loud conversation about money was, to say the least, interesting.

Sherri told us she’d pray about how much to give toward our ministry. I’m assuming now, 5 years later, that she decided on $0 per month. Because she certainly never answered our follow-up phone calls.

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