The Friendly Visit

Once you quit attending, and definitely after you have been withdrawn from, you will get the friendly visit. The friendly visit, if observed by friends or unknowing relatives, is characterized by politeness and seeming genuineness. It leaves you confused as to why you feel exhausted and enervated afterward. It is as if you have vacated your body and are floating somewhere up near the ceiling.

The reason for this dissociated feeling is that there is a phoniness about these meetings. There are spoken or unspoken rules that govern these meetings:

Rules:
1. You are the naughty child, and the person from the church you have left is the long suffering parent.

2. No comfort or encouragement can be extended to you as long as you are “unfaithful” or a “false teacher”.

3. All social talk is just a preamble for the real talk about coming back to “the truth”.

4. If you violate any of these rules during the visit they promise to get grouchy. In fact if you exhibit any tendency to being happy in your “unfaithfulness” then they are guaranteed to get grouchy.

5. Not every visit, but often enough so that you will always be holding your breath for it, is the pronouncement that you are departing from the truth and journeying farther and farther off into denominationalism. This pronouncement is more common when you are seen to be having fun during the visit.

Solutions to the Visit:
1. Start an argument during the visit. Ask the person if they know they are saved, and how they know they are saved. If they know they are saved by their obedience, you might confront them with a few scriptures. If they are not sure they are saved, you have the choice of two approaches:
(a) quote the scripture that says we can be sure of our salvation, or
(b) ask them why they think they can pronounce anything on you when they are not even sure of their own salvation. It would seem a better use of their time to seek their own assurance, rather than yell at someone else (who is sure of their salvation).

2. Serve food or coffee. If someone is withdrawn from, the rule in the Church of Christ is that you can’t eat with them. They can either politely refuse, or violate their ethics, or start an argument, or leave (Yay!).

3. Put up with the visit. It only comes once in a while, and who cares?

4. Don’t let them in the door. Say: “This is not a convenient time, please call first.” If they call first, say: “I don’t want a visit.” Don’t give a reason. If they say “Why not?” Say, “Whatever you need to say, you can say to me over the phone.”

5. If you know the person and the person has been difficult and rude before, then you can be even more up front. Say: “I don’t let rude and disrespectful people in my home.” You will get a nasty letter in reply, which you can either open or not open, and either throw away or keep as a reminder of who not to let in your home. Or you can reply any way you want to, because nothing will help.

When we finally get to the place where we realize that we love these people, but nothing will stop them from being manipulative, rude, intrusive, harming our children and pronouncing nasty judgment on us, then we are half the way to being able to deal with them.

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About Mark

I was raised in the conservative non-institutional churches of Christ and attended Florida College in Tampa, Florida. I served as a minister for 8 years in the non-institutional churches of Christ, and 4 years at a mainline church of Christ in Vermont.
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