Reaching out

Sunday evening I took part in a meeting at my church. Well, maybe I should reword in saying I sat in the sanctuary and listened to the pastor and Sunday school coordinator’s plans as words of skepticism ran through my head.

But by the end of the meeting I was excited about the plans.

My church wants to reach out to individuals who visit, to those who are members and haven’t been in a long time, to those who are there every Sunday and Wednesday. My church wants to minister to every individual.

I’ve visited many churches where I walked in, was handed a bulletin, sat in the pew, shook hands with the person next to me, listened to the sermon, and then walked out, feeling good I was there, but knowing no one would recognize I wouldn’t be back the next week.

My church is trying to avoid that. They want everyone who walks through our sanctuary doors on Sunday morning, or visits on Wednesday or Sunday nights, that we care they were there. A new concept? It shouldn’t be, but it probably is.

The plan is for coordinators within Sunday school classes to be identified and then for the coordinators to assign leaders for care groups and each leader has a few to several names on the list they contact weekly. During the contact, the intention is not to ask the individual why they weren’t at church on Sunday or to prod into their personal life, but to let them know, if they weren’t at church, that they were missed and to offer any support for anything that may be going on in their lives.

This is where I was skeptical. For a long time, I considered myself a Christian who didn’t need church. Also, I was doing a number of things that aren’t “Christian-like”. I know my testimony of that time suffered, but now, I feel I may be stronger for it. It was an ignorant time, in that I believed: 1)I didn’t need to be in church, which is the body of Christ, what he started in his disciples, 2) that all I had to do was believe in him, but I could live life however I wanted. It’s true, God forgives us of our sins and Christ bridged that gap between man and God. When we accept Christ as our savior, we have our seat in Heaven and will go before the Lord as righteous.

Yet, as a Christian, we have a duty to live as Christ intended. And that is where so many of us fall. You may think it’s cool to drink, curse, gossip, do a myriad of other things all while proclaiming to love God. That’s what I did. And I can tell you if someone from the church called me weekly to inquire about how things were at work or at home or just in general, I would have politely talked to them the first time, but if they called again I would have screened the call and NOT answered the phone.

The thing is, my husband and I have been through several hurdles in our married life. Not just normal hurdles couples go through as far as getting used to living with each other and growing accoustomed and accepting each other’s habits, but hurdles caused by outside sources: death of loved ones, car accidents, dog bites, just to name a few of the hard things we’ve endured. And my point in mentioning these things is that had I been in weekly contact with a church member, I may have been inclined to answer the phone when they called and let them know that we’d been involved in a car accident and my husband was having to go through two surgeries in less than two weeks. My church family would’ve been there to bring food, feed my dog, get my mail, or – and most importantly – offer support through prayer.

So after I sat through the meeting for a few minutes, feeling skeptical, I realized they aren’t just trying to reach members who’ve fallen off the church bandwagon, they’re trying to be there for members and non-members alike. Whether involved or not, they want to reach out and offer support to who ever needs it whether they need it at that moment or not. I like that idea. It’s what the church should’ve been doing all along, but more, it’s what each of us, as individuals, should be doing too. Reach out to that friend in need, the one who’ll go months without calling you. Send a card to the friend that’s sick – or stop by her house for a quick visit. Don’t worry about imposing, because at least you stopped by, showed you cared.

As Christians, we are not perfect. But we should look to the perfect One, to model our life after, live for Him, proclaiming Him as righteous, and encouraging others to find the glory we know in Him.