Be Faithful

Be faithful to your God.  He has called you to serve Him. He has called you to live a holy life. He sent His only Son to die for you. He loves you. He gives you mercy instead of the justice you deserve. He gives you grace.

If you are in full time ministry, be faithful. If you are a pastor, be faithful to that call. If you are an elder in the church, be faithful. If you are a Sunday School Teacher, be faithful.  and the list of ministries goes on and on.  We are faithful when we spend the time needed to prepare for these ministries instead of just “winging it”.  We are faithful when we take our ministries seriously and attempt to minister to the Body of Christ rather than just entertain. We are faithful when we genuinely care for those to whom we are sent to minister rather than just going through the motions.

No matter what your job is, as a Christian we are called to be honest in all our dealings. Be honest in word, in deed, in money, in time, in property, etc…  Be a good steward of what God has given you whether it belongs to you or you are overseeing its use.

Recently I’ve heard of several in ministry who have fallen into sin. Some have mishandled funds. Some have actually stolen church property. Some of had emotional affairs. Some have had physical affairs. Some have lied. Some of been overtaken by pride. Some of taken over a ministry and run it into the ground because they don’t prepare well or manage their help well. 

Some of had difficult situations in life and no one has come to encourage them or to counsel them so they have given up. Some have burned out and left. Some have been pushed out by ungracious boards. Some have not taken time to listen to the needs of those around them, others have ignored truths that are right before them

Oh, how it hurts the Body of Christ. Oh, how it causes immature Christians to fall. Oh, how it hurts the testimony of the entire congregation.  Be careful, be faithful

American churches?

While I have been travelling to visit various churches in the USA, I have been surprised by many things. Some are positive things, others are negative things. Some excite me, others sadden me.

  I love to meet pastors and their wives around the country. I am excited to hear their joy in serving, the things that brighten their eyes as they share. But so many are hurting. They have been “abused” by their elders and churches. They struggle to make ends meet. They are attempting to share their hearts and preach what God has laid on their hearts but yet they are blocked at every turn.  Most of the time it is the strong Christians in the church doing the harm.

  I am excited to see the mission-minded hearts of congregations who send out short term teams and support missions. I am saddened by churches who are only looking inward to their own needs and don’t see the needs of their community.  

  Most churches are welcoming and someone greets you and asks more about you. But there are the few churches where I attend and no one even greets me.  Do they not want visitors? 

  How exciting it was to see that youth group made up of multi-cultural kids all wanted to learn more about the Lord.

  How sad it was to see the frowns on faces when an announcement was made about serving in the homeless district downtown.

  All churches are hurting, all have problems – because a local church is made of human beings, we bring our sinful nature with us. But we need to be proactive in welcoming visitors, in spreading the Gospel, in serving their community, in caring for their pastors, etc…

  I don’t want to judge, because I know that I too can fail.  We must each think of what we can do and how we can change.

Church Attendance

images (26)Growing up in the States, we were in every church service our church held throughout the week.  We couldn’t play sports which would interfere with our church attendance on a regular basis.  We knew almost everyone in our church and would volunteer to help out whenever possible.  My family was involved in the inner workings of that local church.  We were also active in regional conferences and would faithfully attend or participate in those events as well. Often one or both of my parents were asked to speak or lead something.  That is how I grew up.

Many people are still that way and that is what keeps a local church healthy.  But I find a downtrend in that involvement among missionaries and their families. Now I know this is not true all across the board.  I think it depends on the type of ministry one is involved in. If you are working in an area planting one church you will typically be more involved. When you are working in health care, community development, education, or with a larger group of churches with some established leadership, we tend to pull away.

Our kids are not learning how to be involved as much as we were growing up. They don’t go to Sunday School outings or Youth Group as often because of the cultural differences.  They may or may not be involved in mid-week services depending on how far away they live. Often it is just the Sunday morning service and even that can be hindered as they may be here one week and in a different fellowship the next week.

I understand how hard it is to participate two-three times on Sunday and mid-week when there is a language barrier, let alone cultural differences.  I struggle sometimes even listening to a sermon in which there isn’t a lot of meat spiritually because of the spiritual level of the local pastor. 

So we start to disengage ourselves from that body of believers in a local church because our job is with many churches or because we don’t understand everything.  We are handing over leadership to nationals and in doing so we have to back out. If we are there in the Bible studies the questions will defer to us rather than the local leader.  But what are we teaching our kids? 

How involved should we remain?  We are the missionaries who are here to teach and lead spiritually but we aren’t involved in our local assemblies here on the field?  We are hardly involved in a local assembly when we are on furlough either because of all our travels. 

Are we spiritually involved with our fellow Body Members?