Posted by: morgan1965 | February 6, 2010

Anonymity in the Church

Is there such a reality as anonymity in the church? Anonymity is generally recognized as the notion of not having a name. Each congregation, of course, has a name; however, is that name readily and widely known in the larger community? Is the name of Jesus share with faith and enthusiasm?

Let me suggest that there is such a thing as anonymity in the church. This anonymity has to do with the fact that the names of some local churches are often obscure or not known by the general public.

What is the name of your local church? Is the name of your church known to the community? These are pertinent questions as we take a brief look at anonymity in the church.

First, too often the name of a local church is not placed in a prominent place on the church building, or it is on a small faded sign that is difficult to read. It is important for the name of a church to be placed in a highly visible location on the church’s property. Also, it is very helpful for there to be directional signs in the church’s neighborhood that will assist a visitor in finding the church.

Second, far too many church phones do not have an answering device or service. When there is such a service, often the service does not invite the caller to worship with the congregation at the regular worship service. It would be helpful for a caller to be able to know the name of the church, hear the time(s) for worship and gain directions to the church. The provision of this kind of information is inviting and encouraging. Does your church provide this kind of information for a caller who might be searching for a church home?

Third, how can an inquiring visitor find out about your church? Quite often an inquiring church visitor will look for an informational presence on the web. Does your church have web site that is inviting and informative about the church’s worship services and ministries? Does your church invite visitors through an ad in the local newspaper, or radio/television spots? Does your church have a listing in the yellow pages of the phone book? If your answers to these questions is no, then your congregation might be engaged in anonymity either by default or conscious decision making.

Fourth, there are times when our clergy engage in anonymity by keeping an extremely “low profile” in the community. A pastor should be known in the community as a spiritual leader associated with a particular church. Pastors are known by their spiritual leadership and their acts of ministry in the congregation and in the general community. Clergy are called to a ministry of presence, not a ministry of anonymity.

Finally, the laity too are called to a ministry of presence. Jesus wants his pilgrim disciples to let their light shine and not hide it under a bushel. There is no place for anonymity among lay people. Laity practice a ministry of presence when they tell their friends and neighbors about their church, and invite these folk to worship with them. They practice a ministry of presence when they witness to the name of Jesus.

Jesus, himself, practiced a ministry of presence, not anonymity. Is there anonymity in your church? Does the congregation practice a ministry of presence in your church?



  1. Bishop Lyght…. I am an elderly man now living in Waynesboro, Virginia, but I was baptized and confirmed in the M E church (now Wesley) in Morgantown. I have been a member of the Methodist, now United Methodist, church since confirmation in 1939 or 1940, I do not remember which. Now we are in the age of the Internet, I most enjoy following the wonderful presence of the church, in many of the Conferences. I pray for the United Methodist Church and the bishops, pastors, and congregations throughout the world. I can at least do this at my age.

  2. Research has shown time and again that most of the dynamic congregations are less than 20 years old. In addition, most growth occurs in new churches. It appears to me that a key problem with the WVUMC is that we don’t start new churches. I realize that we are more concerned with consolidating churches and closing tiny churches to save money. But what does a chain business do? They open up new branches in growing areas and close down unprofitable branches. Perhaps we can’t mandate closure, but we can support the planting of new churches in places like Morgantown and Jefferson County. We could even open new churches in places that are merely stable, such as Charleston, Huntington, and Parkersburg. Last year at a district conference, I heard 5 or 6 churches tell tales of woe, while only two were positive. While we cannot easily close churches, perhaps we can attract new people to new churches.

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