Strangers in the Pew

Posted by Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage

A man by the name of Bob Rowland and his daughter Cynthia Rowland McClure wrote a book called Strangers in the Pew, Do you know us? He is a member of our church, and a very well respected man.
This is what is written on the back of the book.
This book calls for church leaders to reach out and involve hurting members, who for the most part, have been forced to the periphery of the Church's fellowship and activities.
These strangers in the pew feel neglected, overlooked and marginalized. They are the first to give up and drop out.
God calls leader to "Defend the cause of the weak and maintain the rights of the poor and the needy." Ps. 82:3
This is a good book, I'm not done yet but it leaves me thinking.
There is a homeless man that goes to our church, not all the time he comes and goes, and we can see his hurt. What about the members that are there every week, they look pretty, and well dressed, are they hurting? Just because they look perfect on the outside they may well be hurting inside. Are they a stranger to us? Do they need our prayers, our help? Are our lives to busy to take the time to ask someone how they are, but actually wait there until they tell us. I am so guilty of this, I ask someone how they are but in passing. I need to be still, I need to listen. This is not just the preachers job it all of ours,I think to many people put all the responsibility on the preacher and not enough on all the other 200 or 2000 people sitting in the pews. Cynthia Rowland McClure, had Bulima she was hurting, did the people on the pews know she was in such pain? After she went to many hospitals for help and received the help she needed, she then was diagnosed with breast cancer that ended up taking her life about 5 years ago. Do people in the pews know Bobs pain over the loss of his daughter? Is a stranger sitting next to you on the pew? Do they need your prayers?
I'm so sorry this was a long post, I hope you had your seat belts on. This has been on my heart and I wanted to share this book with you.
God Bless,
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This entry was posted at 8/29/2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I'm sure this is a good book on a raw, tough, serious subject. We do need to spend more time thinking about and doing what we can to help
"others." Thanks for letting us know about this book.

August 29, 2009 at 11:00 PM

I appreciate you sharing this sweetie.

August 29, 2009 at 11:12 PM

This is such an important subject. I heard Cynthia speak at Pepperdine many many years ago while she was fighting her illness. We do need to be alert to others who are hurting. Thank you for this reminder.

August 30, 2009 at 12:45 AM

I'm glad you shared this today. If we don't care about the hurting that come to church, why are earth are we calling ourselves "Christian"? But it happens all often...I think even those that don't appear to be hurting are in their own way, at least at times. I'm so glad we have the Lord to run to when people disappoint us.

August 30, 2009 at 3:02 AM

We need to be more aware of others and often repeat, "It's not about ME."

August 30, 2009 at 7:22 AM

Ah very good--sooo true. We need to slow down and pray that God directs us to those in need. The book sounds good. I think part of the problem is that those in need do not open themselves up to others. They will say they are "fine" when they are not . Sometimes people assume others "know" about what they are going through --there needs to be some opening up. At our church the small groups have helped greatly with this.

August 30, 2009 at 8:48 AM

I think it's all about being transparent with each other. We all have our masks on while the enemy tells us that no-one cares or understands. You're so right Ginger! We must reach out across the pews. Thanks for sharing such a great post!

August 30, 2009 at 9:56 AM

What a moving post. I have been to a few different churches where I felt just like that. A stranger in the pew.

August 30, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Wow ...yours is a powerful message, Ginger! Not only in the same pew, but in the neighborhood and workplace alike, I need to pause and ask myself if I'm feeling sincere and conveying sincerity when I ask someone, "How are you?".
I'm going remember this post for a long time.


August 30, 2009 at 12:03 PM

Hi Ginger,
Sounds like a good book. Having spent time both in the pew and the pulpit, I know exactly what you are talking about. It's not all up to the pastor. We all play a part in ministering to others. Thank you for the reminder. Have a wonderful Sunday.


August 30, 2009 at 12:44 PM

I like to think that our parish does better than this, mainly because the town is the parish and the parish is the town, and we are small even though we fill the church at nearly every mass. Our priest always asks visitors to raise their hands and finds out a little about them so that the members of the parish can talk to them afterward. During the sharing of peace, we also have time to become acquainted with the people near us a little more deeply than one word -- and in the Spanish mass, this happens twice: once before the priest arrives (which is 4-5 minutes of time to talk to new folks). We also keep a list of people who need help: prayers, financial, eucharist in the home, other needs. Still, we could probably do better, and it is good to be reminded that the greatest needs may not be far away but right next to us.

August 30, 2009 at 2:03 PM

"There is a homeless man that goes to our church, not all the time he comes and goes, and we can see his hurt. What about the members that are there every week, they look pretty, and well dressed, are they hurting? Just because they look perfect on the outside they may well be hurting inside. Are they a stranger to us? Do they need our prayers, our help?"

That's true. Like Daddy, we must not rely on looking at outward appearances for we can be deceived and miss that opportunity to help out or encourage someone that God has placed next to you, on that pew.

Blessings to you sister. Thank you for sharing that book. Have a great week!

August 30, 2009 at 5:41 PM

I think you bring up an excellent point, Ginger. Not only should we ask God to lead us in ways we can reach out to hurting folks, but we need to be honest when we're hurting and not hide behind a mask. Today, a strong prayer warrior friend visited our church and during our greeting time, she asked me how things were going. I told her I need prayer; I'm in a huge spiritual battle and she encouraged me and promised to pray. Thank God for fellowship. It goes both ways.

August 30, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Ginger, this brings to mind many things that I could be doing to make those "strangers in the pew" feel more welcome and a part of the church community. Thank you so much for the gentle nudge.

God bless.

August 30, 2009 at 9:56 PM

Sounds like a book that every christan should read. We do need to really see our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is so easy to just stay on the surface and not see who is really hurting ,or needs help or encouragement. Thanks for sharing and thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the sweet comment.Have a blessed week8-)

August 30, 2009 at 11:55 PM

We really need to be so aware of others and the pain and suffering that sits in the pew with us.

Bless you for making us aware.

August 31, 2009 at 9:00 PM

My husband and I are the head of the assimilation at our church. We are trying hard to get people to greet others and my husband writes lots of articles for the church's newsletter encouraging people to be friendly and to reach out to others. We say that we are all ministers. The pastor cannot do it all. It is just not possible. Thank you for telling us about this book. It sounds really good.

August 31, 2009 at 9:13 PM

Hello sweet lady....just wanted to stop in and say thank you for your sweet comment, and especially for your prayers, and your support for Ovarian Cancer Awareness*! ((hugs))

September 1, 2009 at 8:38 PM

Very well put! I am going to get this book. I want to make sure that I can do more so that others wont go through what I did. Part of the reason we left our church. not only was i a stranger in the pew when I asked a so called sister for help when going througn something really awful she said she did not have the time!!! This is a book we all need (including me). Thank you for sharing this!
God bless

September 4, 2009 at 7:19 AM

Thanks for the visit at Family Fountain.

This looks like a good book. Believe I will order it. Thanks. wb

September 6, 2009 at 8:33 AM

This is such an important subject and I thank you for bringing it to our attention. We all need to be aware of who is sitting near us who may be hurting.


September 6, 2009 at 5:41 PM

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