In 2017 I worked at Dayton United Methodist Church, Dayton, Indiana (just outside of Lafayette) for a brief time. I enjoyed my time there and met some wonderful people and made some good friends, and am sad it did not last longer. The church has since left the UMC and is now known as Gathering Point Church.
I got invited the weekend of January 20-21 this year to officiate a volleyball tournament in Lafayette. I drove up on Friday and around noon was in Dayton so I decided to go by and see if anyone was in. When I arrived around noon, the door was open so I went int. There was no one in the office so I walked around the building to see if anyone was there. During my time there we had renovated the gym, so I walked back to take a look at it and pray a prayer of thanks for that time.
I continued through the building and past all the offices, but no one was there. I also stopped to use a restroom, and then at the front entrance to wave at the security camera to say hi, and even gave them a thumbs up for what I though was their good mission there, and left.
Later that day there was a phone call from the Dayton police on my phone. The next day the Dayton Police started following the Facebook page of my current church, something they continued to do with a different account for three straight weeks. The Tuesday after my visit I was leaving my house when a Greenwood City police car quickly pulled in and blocked my home driveway. An officer approached my car and said that the Dayton Police wanted me to know if I ever set foot on The Gathering Point property again I would be arrested for trespassing.
I called the current pastor of the church and he said, “I called them and told them to tell you that. I didn’t like that you came to the building. I think you did it one other time years ago when no one was here and that you even left a note.” I just hung up on him.
My thought was, “well duh, I left a note because when I came by NO ONE WAS THERE. This time, although the church was open, NO ONE WAS THERE, so I waved at the cameras and left.”
At the time I had numerous connections on Facebook from that church. I sent them a message that because of the actions of their pastor I would be disconnecting from them unless they still wanted to remain friends. With three exceptions, there was no response at all. We as a people are often apathetic unless it happens to us, I have learned.
One response came that I did like, “Why should I pay for his actions?” I’m still friends with that person.
So why do I share this story? Because we as a church have to be better than that. This world is turning cold and hard, and nothing turns people off to Jesus more than the actions of Christians.
I know I have done things in my life that have not reflected well on Christ, and I can only hope and pray this incident was just a really bad choice by someone who is called to be a church leader and not an indication of deeper problems in that place.
More than anything, I pray that I can learn from his poor example, and not be someone to so poorly represent Christ, and I also pray that when I do fail, that people will see past me to the God of grace and mercy.