I think there is a lot of truth in that old song that Cheers made famous. Sometimes you do want to go where everyone knows your name. But, I’m realizing that there is another truth, similar, yet unstated (in the song at least). As great as it is to go somewhere where everyone knows your name, it’s also good to be in a place where you know others’ names as well.
Let me explain a little bit.
Every summer I used to preach for one month at Emmanuel Faith Community Church. EFCC is a 5000 person church in a town of about 150,000. So, it’s a pretty big church, in a sort of small town. That means that if you preach at EFCC, a lot of people know who you are! I would walk around for the few months after preaching and I’d have people come up and start talking to me… and I had no idea who they were. I have to admit, it was a bit awkward. I called people “buddy” and “pal” and “you” all summer!
I find myself in the same position again now. Starting in a new fairly public position like a pastor tends to lend itself to that. Everyone at South Fellowship knows my name. They know my family. They know a lot of details about us. But at this point (hopefully not for much longer), I know very few people here. I was just walking down the hall and had a person joyfully greet me stating, “Hi Ryan!I thought it was you, we are so glad that you’re here!” The greeting was one that I would expect from a long time friend (which I hope we become), but not one from someone I have never met. I love the excitement, but I hate the feeling of not knowing the person. Don’t get me wrong, I love the greeting and hope to receive many more just like it. I just wish I had something other than “Hi buckaroo” to offer in return.
I think that’s the hardest part about starting out. Not knowing. I’m a people person and I want to know the people that God has called me to live life with. I want to know their joys, their pains, their struggles, the things that they find beautiful, and the things that break their hearts. I want to know them.
In time it will come. Sometimes it’s great to go where everyone knows your name, but I think it’s just as sweet to be in a place where you know the names of everyone else as well! I’m excited for that day.