Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I Got Poked In Church

WARNING: This post will show just how judgmental Mike Ellis is and without God he has no ability to love, forgive and accept others who don't think or act like him or agree with him. If you are involved with leadership at Mike's church, please ignore this post. His "talking doctor" said he should spend time writing out his thoughts. Please ignore Mike's ramblings. They are still working on his medication doses. These are the opinions of Mike Ellis and NOT the staff or leadership of First United Methodist Church in Port Orange, FL.

On the 5th Sunday my church does something I am not really wild about. I call it "East Meets West". We combine the 9am and 11am services. The 9am service is traditional. The 11am service is contemporary. The 9am has more "seasoned citizens" compared to the 11am contemporary service. 9am service features hymns. The 11am? Tomlin, Crowder, Tomlin, Tomlin, Hall, Brewster, Tomlin. If I go any further describing the differences I will only continue to show my true colors and absolutely seal the deal that I will never get invited to any church Christmas parties. Look, I know that people from my church in leadership positions may have decided to do this because it was a great idea. Build a bridge. Create Community. Seal the Gap between the Generations. In my opinion, I think it's a train wreck. There are times that putting two entirely different communities together is not a great idea. Want examples? Opera and Monster Trucks. Kiss Fans with Celine Dion fans. Are you tracking with me?

This past Sunday I experienced one of the challenges of the "combined" service: Generational Conflict. My son Devon and I went to church early to help out with a youth group fundraiser. The service had already started and I realized that my wife had not made it to the church. I was concerned so I called her on my cell phone outside the church. She didn't pick up the phone so I left her a message. I walked into the church service and sat myself down next to my buddy Russell. During the offering while a very nice lady was playing the piano, my cell phone rang. It was my wife. I answered it because I was worried about her. She was not in church. Was she sick? Did she get into an accident? I answered my cell phone. During the 11am service this is not big deal. I quickly realized that answering your cell phone in the "combined service" is worse than a "fart in church" or "putting a turd in the punchbowl at the potluck". While I was on the phone quietly trying to talk to my wife, I felt a serious poke on my shoulder. Then possibly a second stronger poke to my shoulder. After the second poke, I looked behind me and realized that a man "voted most likely to come to the 9am service" was the poker. When I looked at him with complete amazement he shared the following with me, "Hey Mac, this is a church. That phone doesn't play in here!" Then he glared at me. The guy was actually angry. I got up and walked out of the church to talk with my wife on the phone.

You know what bothers me? Not that he poked me. The poker bothered me because sitting next to me was a family that I invited to church. This family is what many would consider to be "un-churched" but they came for the first time last Sunday. I don't know if they witnessed the "poking" incident or not. I do know this. If I came to church for the very first time with my family and I saw an "old guy" seriously poking and acting like a jerk to a "younger guy", I might not come back to that church next week or ever again. What would a family visiting a church for the very first time be thinking if they saw this happen? What if that "old dude" works with the children in church? Do I want him hanging out with my kids? What if I get an emergency phone call during the service? Will he get angry and poke me?

What are you and I doing to poke people? What are you and I doing to poke first time visitors to our churches? What are your experiences with "blended" or "combined" services? Am I wrong?


  1. We all have things that we 'poke' people about.

    Yours seems to be that you poke the older generation for believing in a sense of decorum and respect in church services which leads them to see answering your phone during the service as inappropriate.

    I'm not going to judge one way or the other but the trick is for you both to have the grace to meet the other person where they are.

    He thinks you should not answer the phone and he has his reasons so he should show you gracefully and politely how and why his way is best.

    You, on the other hand, don't have a problem with it so you should gracefully and politely show him why your way is OK.

    The thing is, we can't force other people to change, we can only change our own actions.

    You seem to have handled it pretty well and I hope that in the course of your joint services, you can continue to demonstrate love and grace so that this gentleman can see and learn that his way is not the only valid way!

  2. I would have been tempted to return his poke with a kidney punch, but that's just me ;-) I guess as church members we get so caught up in "rules" that we forget about little acts of compassion.

    At my former church, I ran the Media Shout for the traditional and contemporary services each Sunday. The difference was night and day. And blending them once a month would have brought on WWIII, so we didn't. You can't have Sandy Patti and DCB in one service without their being a church split, I'm convinced...

  3. their, there. You know what I meant...;-)

  4. As a witness to the "poke" I'd like to say, conflict is always an opportunity for people with difference to become friends...

    Abraham Lincoln said once that the best way to defeat your enemy is to make them your friend.

    I have no problem with the combined service . . . other than we cancel Men's Group . . . and the old hymns.

    Mike, when that old man goes on to the next life, you can go to his funeral and get in the last poke . . . until then, love him into submission.

  5. I actually love 'combined services' because I LOVE the old hymns and I also love to rock out!

    I could write a lot about why the younger generation need old hymns and the older generation need the newer stuff, but I won't...

    I could also write about how the younger generation need the older generation and vice versa.... bu I won't

  6. as the mother in the family you invited, we enjoyed the service.

    as a friend of the 'poke-ee' if i would have seen it, i would have hit him, right there in the church. yes, you know me, i really would have hit him.

    i'm a tolerant person, but it only goes so far (something i'm working on) but, dang man...there are many ways he could have handled that situation.

    i don't believe for one minute that you were in the wrong!

    and i don't blame the church for one mans actions. proof i'm growing up!


  7. Mike,
    Next time text her and don't call her. You should know better than that in church. And while you are at it, ditch the shorts and flops for those services and get your shine on. I bet you even had that orange flame shirt on again. You are fixing to get the boot brother.