It’s been far too long since we’ve met for a cup of coffee (or tea) in our virtual coffee corner! If you’re new to the blog, welcome! Every so often I like to host a little “coffee chat” to discuss some question or other. This one is long overdue! (I posted the last one in 2016!)
Will you join me over your cup of coffee or tea today and have a little “chat?”
For today’s discussion, let’s talk about worshipping and working with the church.
Just so we’re clear, we don’t go to church because we are the church. We go to worship with fellow Christians.
Also, when it comes to attending worship, our focus should be first on God and second on helping others.
A few weeks ago, I published a post at TheCourage.com, entitled, “What’s the point of going to church if I can worship God anywhere?” Kirk Cameron posted the link to the post on his Facebook page, and the comments were quite an interesting read. There is a large population on Facebook that reads the title of an article, but never bothers to get beyond the headline to see what the writer actually said. Such was the case with many of these comments. In spite of that, these comments were quite telling about the pain and disillusionment many people hold about the church (as in God’s people).
Here are a few comments:
“The church has really done a poor job as of late in reaching out to those who have been absent. I remember a time when you’d get a phone call or one of the pastors would come by and talk to you and check up on you of you haven’t been for a while. That’s rarely done anymore. It’s like they could care less if you’re there or not, and it’s very disturbing and upsetting.”
“I don’t go because there’s been so much corruption in churches, social clubs instead of worship. A man can no longer trust that his wife is in a safe place where other men won’t hit on her. I haven’t gone in over ten years and won’t go.”
“I always felt the point of going to church was to fellowship with other Christians. But these days a lot of those at church really aren’t what they appear to be. Also often times the message being taught is repetitive which doesn’t help us to grow. It is a struggle to find a church that is fulfilling to both adults and their their children”
The comments in the thread revealed many people seriously hurting and many more who feel the church could care less about their pain. Others mentioned issues with adultery, hypocrisy, judgment, etcetera. Some feel unwelcome. Some feel as though they cannot share their struggles for fear of being ostracized.
When we work with and worship with our local church, love should be abounding. One of the reasons we are encouraged to worship together is to “stir up one another to love and good works.” Too many people have decided that worshipping with other Christians isn’t for them because they have been hurt too deeply to come back. This is a tragedy.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
~ Hebrews 10.23-25, ESV (emphasis mine)
My question to you, my readers, is how do we (as individuals and congregations) get better at seeing those who need help, love, and encouragement?
Here’s something else to think about: How do we conquer social anxiety when it comes to helping others? There are times I want to do something for others or say something encouraging, but I am concerned about whether it will actually be helpful or encouraging.
Fear unfortunately holds me back from helping more than I’d like to admit. I’ve walked up to strangers to welcome them, only to be met with a condescending glare and/or one-word answers. Such a hostile or cold reciprocation will send me scooting off to my seat in a heartbeat. I’ve offered help only to be told I’m not needed. I’ve helped only to find out through the grapevine that my help wasn’t wanted or good enough.
I know that the Lord can work through even a weak vessel like me and its my job to step out on faith in spite of my fear, but even so, we can get discouraged or burnt out!
What are your practical suggestions?
What have you done (or are you currently doing) that you have found effective in making people feel loved and welcome?
How do you get your relationships with people in the church to go beyond the surface, “Hi, how are you” to recognizing needs and addressing them?
Inquiring minds want to know, so answer below!
***As always, it’s important to keep the discussion civil—any ad hominem attacks will be deleted without apology.***