Many congregations have returned to on-campus services. But guess what?
This pandemic has not changed the makeup of your congregation.
They were there before the crisis, which caused you to close your campus. They weren’t the cause. But these people remain a part of the cultural fabric of your congregation.
Who am I talking about? Before I tell you, let me assure you that this isn’t a self-righteous piece about how we are better than they are. I think we’ve all been in each of these groups. Hopefully, we can see if we’ve drifted into the wrong group and run back to the right group.
Meet them and decide which group you should join.
Needy. We have needy people in our congregational care. I hope it won’t offend you to know that I’m in this first group.
Hello, my name is William, and I’m a needy person. Since I’ve confessed this, you might as well stand with me and admit that you, too, are a charter member of this group. We came to Christ and became a part of His Church because we were needy. We were sinners in need of a Savior (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
I remain in this Church because even though I have the Savior, and He has me. I need His daily sanctifying grace, shouting, “Grace, grace to it!” I need His grace to teach me how to live in this present age as I look for His glorious return (see Titus 2:11-14). So do you.
But what about those people in our local church who are so needy and clingy that it seems abnormal. You know them. They seem to like their neediness so much that they lack the courage to be healed. They identify less with our healing Christ and more with their brokenness.
What do we do with them? We set boundaries for the good of the whole congregation and speak firmly, for our own sanity. But we must also continue our attempts to lovingly disciple their healing. We love and forgive them as though we have tapped into an inexhaustible supply of grace (because we have).
The faces and the names will change. But you’ll always have needy people in your congregation.
Negligent. The people in this group are the most frustrating for me. Why? They cause damage to themselves and others because they fail to take responsibility for their actions. As though they have blinders on, they refuse to take appropriate care of interpersonal relationships.
First of all, these people neglect to take care of themselves. They aren’t growing because they refuse to put forth any effort. Sometimes, they won’t even own up to their real issues. They neglect prayer, the Bible and play haphazardly with their church attendance.
Secondly, they damage others because they say whatever is on their mind as though it’s a God-given right. They hurt others with words because they do not fill their heart with God’s Word. They do not allow the Holy Spirit to assist them in measuring their tone of voice and choice of words.
Sound familiar? You weren’t asked to join this group, and you should leave today. It’s time to confess your negligence and set your soul on a better path.
Nice. Here’s the group I want to hang out with. The members of this group should maintain dual status with the needy group. They recognize their daily neediness before God. This awareness keeps us humble and patient with those who camp out too long in the wounded zones of neediness and lack the courage to be healed.
The nice people in your congregation also do their best to refrain from drifting into the negligent group. They understand the dangerous pull of negligence in their relationships with God and others.
Nice church members use their words carefully, and they love God with their actions.
What I love most about this group is their willingness to pray. Individually and corporately, they have an astute awareness of the power of prayer. Members in this group will privately tell me, “Pastor, I’m praying for you.” Sometimes they are the first to settle into the altars as we seek the Lord together in prayer meetings.
I’ll leave these groups where they are with these brief descriptions. Much more can be said about each of them. But I think I’ve said enough to get you thinking about them and praying for us all.