Quite often I read articles by various bloggers who attempt to in some way to justify with good reason the mutual abandonment of a church and a believer and his or her family if they have one. Indeed there are good reasons for a person to part ways with a church: 1. God’s leading them away; 2. a change in geography; 3. change in theology. These reasons do not constitute “mutual abandonment”.
Some would say that it is good when people leave a church if they:
1. are disagreeable to the leadership of the church
2. are consumer Christians, never wanting to give but always wanting to receive
3. are irregular worship attenders, Bible study attenders, or just irregular about everything that pertains to the church
4. do not live by the accepted behavioral code of the church leadership or what most in the church may expect to be acceptable behavior
5. rarely supported the church with tithes and offerings
6. do not fit into the image, demographic, or desired persona of the church
7. never really responded to me as a person or my attempts to assimilate them into the life of the church.
8 never really felt welcomed because they never really made the effort to join us in what we were doing.
These and others are not good reasons either. Every one of these reasons rests as much with the church as they do with the believer and his or her family.
1. Disagreements (conflicts) are healthy when all parties are ready to speak (and receive) the truth in love. Church leadership (you) must be ready to listen to disagreements, assess them and act appropriately (including bringing them to the pastor) But conflict should never be the basis for breaking relationship (study the life of David, Jonathan and Saul)
2. Giving is a sign of maturity. If people are receiving more than giving, they need model to show them what healthy giving is. Show them; give them opportunities to give every chance you get. But never decide they are just takers. Our job as FCM is to constantly help our families become better servants.
3. Irregular attendance may have many reason. Find out what they are. The act of loving inquiry shows you care for them. Find out how the church may help them be a regular part of the gathering of the body. Spur them along with a gentle hand. Instead of being concerned about their attendance, express compassion for them; let you love for them bring them back to a the gathered fellowship of believers. Remind them gently how good it is for them to be with other people of faith.
4. Behavior is not the dividing line between the church and the world; forgiveness is. Salvation and fellowship is the beginning point for our development as a Christian. Quite often a change in behavior come later, either quickly or gradually. Our job is the help them overcome old behaviors and habits so that they may live a more genuine life before God. You can’t help them come to that realization if they leave. And they may not ever receive such care and concern if they go elsewhere.
5. How a person gives financially to a church is also an indicator of maturity. Again, a lack of maturity is no reason to decide it is o.k. for a person to move on down the road. Help the person mature, not become a better giver. Maturity first and giving will follow.
6. The only image of the church is Christ. If we ever substitute his with any idea of our own (even if it has been proven to make a church bigger) we stop being the church. See people as Christ sees them and everyone will fit in and belong in his church just fine.
7. The old song, “Let others see Jesus in you” is valid. If people are having trouble getting along with you, let them see more of Jesus. If they reject him who is in you, then there is really nothing to do about that. But if they move away from him because of you, that is a different story. Be clear about who Jesus is in your life and open pathways into the lives of other people.
8. Churches can appear alot like tribes (or even packs!) A church must always be on the guard of projecting exclusiveness to new people in worship, study or other such gatherings. It is not the persons responsibility to try to push their way into the tribe. It is the leadership of the church to eliminate completely the tribal or pack instinct in the church. This is one of the greatest responsibilities of a Family Care Minister.
I hope all of these points make you a better Family Care Minister this week. I am praying for you as you minister this week. Remember to contact your families in yellow if you have yet to do so (last week email). I am contacting them this week as well. I pray that you experience the joy of shepherding this week as you serve your families.