During our 10 year position as Associate Pastors, our heart and passion was for the lost and for equipping the saints. But it was during our 2 year hiatus from fulltime ministry that God really opened my eyes and my heart for the lost. I soon realized that our world is not only full of the sick, and the lonely but also so many that are lost.
God took us down a road for 2 years that literally showed us a world out there of the "unchurched". God asked us a question ... "Who will love the unchurched?"
Unfortunately, this is a group of people that all too soon get forgotten or lost between the cracks. These are people that either have not heard the Good News or they have, and were hurt in church and vowed never to return.
Seeing so many "outside" the church made me wonder, why do they leave? As I researched this question, I found many answers as to the why. My husband and I are back pastoring fulltime, and I don't mind telling you that the staggering numbers of people who have left churches because of hurt
is mind boggling to me.
But the hurt of others is only one kind of hurt that keeps people out, we often times, hurt ourselves. We hurt ourselves when we find that the house rules of Gods house are too restrictive, we pack up and look else where for our acceptance and our being. We look for ways that our behavior can fit the Bible rather than Bible shaping our behavior.
Many people are seeking the love of Christ but don't want to submit to His Lordship. They desire His blessings but don't adhere to His commandments. Even though Christ offers everything, the cost of serving Him seems too high for some. But don't think that this is anything new to Christ. Many of His disciples turned and walked no more with Him, to this Jesus turned to His twelve and asked, "Do you also want to go away?"
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ." - Simon Peter (John 6:60-69)
True discipleship does not come from attending a church service, that is true. It is the relationship that we have daily with Christ. But just like the family that we were born into, even though troubles come, and we don't always get along all of the time, we still stick by each other thru thick and thin.
We are family. And when just one strays away from the family tree, we should stop at nothing to bring them back. May we all seek those who are "unchurched" and give them a place to belong, a family to call their own.
And if you one of those "unchurched" who has thrown in the towel, I know what it is like to be hurt in church, I have been too. But remember that people will always let you down and that God has given each of us a greater purpose than to give in or quit. He has a greater plan that any man and in His power, we can OVERCOME and BECOME something great for Him!
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