Lately, there seems a strong re-emphasis on the importance of being an active, participating member in one’s local church. Some Christians are encouraged to pour themselves into their local church to be and stay connected.
But is pouring yourself into the church always the right answer?
Recently, I talked to a friend in another city. He and his family have been somewhat disconnected from his church family due to various life circumstances. He sat down to talk with his pastor about the situation. Upon explaining that he felt a little like an outsider and did not know most of the new members, the pastor told him that he needs to pour himself into the church. My friend was challenged to be present on Wednesday nights and at both Sunday services in order to get connected again.
I understood this advice from the pastor as did my friend. The more I probed, the more I realized my friend was not looking for excuses for his situation, but looking for help.
He was hurting spiritually.
I asked my friend if an offer was made to have anyone pour them self into his life, as a church member, during this difficult time. His answer was no. But that question brought new life to the conversation. He explained how he would have so appreciated the offer for a mature Christian to come alongside and help him spiritually.
Many times Christians who are consistently missing during corporate gatherings are hurting spiritually. The hurt may be sin, spiritual depression, being overwhelmed, etc. Telling them to pour themselves into the church is not always the right answer.
Listening with empathy and discernment may reveal that those hurting need the church to pour into them for a time of restoration. While listening in this way it may be good to remember that the church exists outside of scheduled weekly gatherings. This approach makes 1 Corinthians 12:26 a little easier, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (ESV).
For what it’s worth…