This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I just heard about it.
We have some friends who volunteer occassionaly in our ministry who also have children the same age as ours. They have been witnessing to a family who is on their son's soccer team for several months and finally got them to agree to visit church. They have a junior high age son, so my friend said he'd go to Wildside with him and introduce him around and sit with him to make sure he had a good time.
For some reason, on the way to church my friend decided that it was probably more important to sit in 'big church' with the boys parents, since it was also their first time to church (I think that was probably an okay decision). So, they dropped the boy off in our tent, and we introduced him around to other adult leaders, leadership kids etc.
A couple of days ago they shared this with my friend:
- The parents had always heard how great Saddleback was and how 'non churchy' it felt. Unfortunately we had a guest speaker who missed the mark, was not very dynamic, and felt pretty churchy. The parents told my buddy they probably wouldn't come back.
- Their son said Wildside was terrible because he didn't know anybody and sat by himself the whole time and felt embarrased about it and doesn't ever want to come back.
I know this type of experience happens a lot, but it kills me when I hear about it first hand. We have student leaders who should have sat next to the boy, we have adult volunteers who should have sat next to him, we have kids from his school who should have sat next to him......
I'm convinced that if he would have said he loved Wildside and wanted to come back, his parents would have been compelled to give it another shot. Sadly I fear that we've lost that opportunity.
What kills me most is that a church family went out on a limb to get their un-churched friends to try it out and we dropped the ball!