“Years ago when my marriage fell apart most of my church abandoned me. I think I didn’t fit in the box anymore – my life was messy – and messy is uncomfortable. So I ended up finding myself really really alone.”
I read that in an article the other day and my heart sunk because first, I’ve been there and second, the reality is, many people are there right now. I love that she wrote this because it addresses something that is happening all around us and something most of our churches are ignoring.
How many times have you sat in your church service as the pastor talked about reaching the lost? Helping the hurting? Outreach? It happens just about every Sunday, right?
Now, how many times have you sat in a service and the pastor talked about helping the person right next to you?
The person you’re not making eye contact with because you just came to sit in church and walk out as soon as it’s over. The person you speak to only when told to introduce yourself by the guy behind the pulpit. The person who you are trying to sit the furthest away from just to leave yourself enough space for your purse. That person.
The truth is, church, we are the hurting.
Within the walls of our churches marriages are crumbling, bills are going unpaid, cancer is being fought, children are out of control, resentment is hardening hearts and pain is unbearable.
Outreach is great, I believe in it. I’m all about it. But, you know what I’m also all about? INreach. Reaching inward to our families that are already there, remember the family you witnessed to a year ago that received Christ, believed what you had to say and now attend your church? They were a good number for the pastor to quote in the weekly salvations but, who is checking in on them now? Are they being discipled? Are their needs being met?
If they stopped attending right now, would anyone notice?
I was raised in the church and became a Christian at age 7, I have a Bachelors in Biblical Studies and am currently in a Masters of Theology program, I’m all in this thing. In saying that, I also have a trail of church casualties behind me. Things happen and people are flawed. Her quote up there, I get that, I lived it.
When my first marriage fell apart, my church deserted me completely. Gone. They were involved in the fall out of my marriage, deeply. They covered it up, they enabled, they turned the other way. There’s a lot there that was 110% wrong.
I, however, have an extremely supportive family and they stood right by me. I left that church and moved to another church in town. I sought good counseling with a former pastor of mine and made sure my feet were firmly planted. I was able to do that because of my strong supportive family not because of my church.
I am not saying that to cut down the church, I am saying that because we need to make ourselves aware. I am strong enough to recognized flawed people, to understand the wrong and let it not hurt my relationship with Christ. I understand the importance of worship with other believers and I moved on quickly. But, for most people, that is not the case at all. It’s churches like the one I was apart of that send people running for the hills.
Church, it’s time to be the church. We are the hands and feet and at some point, we’re going to have to act like it. That means, eye contact with the person next to you, skipping the judgement when a marriage falls apart, holding someone who is crying in worship, shaking a hand of a stranger, asking someone to lunch and genuinely caring about one another.
It means getting out of our comfort zones, our “we are just here for service and we’re out the door” zones. It means slowing down, looking up from our phones. It means a smile.
Yes, let’s do outreach but, church, let’s do a little more INreach too.