It has been my experience that as our world becomes more fast pace and churches become larger, we seem to lose that interconnection that was once common. I have attended and talked with many preachers over the years and many struggle to keep up with the demands of their members. I have also seen those that have done an exceptional job of keeping in touch with those who truly need to be attended to. Some of the solutions have been to assign the deacons or Sunday school teachers as the “mentor” for people and the philosophy is that as we get bigger we must get smaller and this means breaking down into smaller groups to where there is more connection with one another, but less connection with the pastoral staff. I have yet to see that work in a way keeps everyone connected and the same Biblical principles applied consistently.
It seems that many churches are stealing ideas from the corporate world to try to manage the larger number of members, but when I read the Bible, I see nothing that Jesus did that was corporate like. Jesus went against the grain of what was set up by the Pharisees because it was too rigid and the people who really needed guidance were not the ones who were getting it. As in many of today’s churches, the same thing is happening. There are many members who reach out for help only to be neglected or forgotten about because they are not a prominent member of the church or of the social scene in the community. It is my opinion that it is this problem that has led a lot of people away from church because of the rejection they have felt when they reached out and were denied attention by the Pastor or whoever they reached out to. I often here excuses from preachers about busy schedules, high demands, heavy workloads and that they often forget about the person who reached out, but you know………I don’t remember Jesus ever complaining about the many crowds that followed Him, or the extreme workload He was given…He just listened and attended to those who were in need at the time they requested it, I don’t believe I ever read in the Bible Him saying “let me get back to you”, or “we’ll talk soon”.
Many of our pastors today should stop and look at their schedules and see where their time is spent. If they are not meeting with members who are asking for help with their daily struggle, they are losing the battle of souls as well as membership. I know of one church that had risen to over 300 in attendance on an average Sunday, but because the pastoral staff quit listening to the members who were asking for help, they are now down to less than 100 and asking themselves “what happened”. In speaking with a pastor that I respect, that was always available to any member or nonmember, he used Luke 15 and the parable of the lost sheep as his guide.
So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘ Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away! (Luke 15:3-7, NLT)
This pastor’s philosophy was simple, to him it did not matter how prominent you were or much you brought to the church, what mattered was those that were drifting, in need of rescuing, and reaching out for guidance, who were lost. He often made those who were long term members of the church mad because they didn’t always get special attention or had to wait while he attended to someone who attended the church, but was not as involved as they were. This pastor explained to me that it was that one lost sheep that meant more to him then the many who were righteous, and because of their righteousness, felt entitled to that immediate attention.
As I write this, I am in the middle of one of those dilemmas, and as I think back over the many years I can only think of two preachers who followed this principle. One of these preachers visited me often during a time of need and I wasn’t even a member of his church (and he wasn’t trying to recruit me either). He saw a man with a soul that was drifting and he knew that by him guiding that lost sheep back to the pack where it belonged, he would be able to rejoice in knowing that another soul was saved. He didn’t direct me back to church, he directed me back to Christ who then led me down the path that I was looking for. If this is a problem for you, send this blog to your preacher or email me and we can discuss ways to get back in touch with Christ so that we will know his true path for us. Let us not forget that preachers are human as well as sinners, just as we are, but they are held to a higher standard. Unfortunately not all can reach all members, but what is important is that you are being led to Christ and not left to drift alone. God Bless.