Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fellowship or Empire

"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens, Selah."
Psalm 68:19

Let me ask a question, is your "church" constructing a loving fellowship or an empire?

The number of people around the world with the same story is alarming. People start out with the right intention to bring people together in a loving and nurturing environment. People come and feel the warmth and joy of the Lord in the fellowship, the Word of God convicts and brings people to the altar for repentance and restoration. So what happens after a few years when a new person can come in and nobody notices that they are new to the fellowship?

Recently a friend took a new believer to a woman's group that she used to attend. Interestingly, she was greeted but the new woman was overlooked with nothing more than a "hi". We were so glad that she didn't go by herself, she would not have felt welcomed to go back. At the end of the meeting, my friend stood up and reminded the group that they have forgotten what it was like to be new, to be desirous for new people to come, and now that there are more than a few people, do not truly welcome and encourage new people.

In another situation, a husband and wife assisted a new pastor to build a congregation, the building itself, and their family along with others had been real encourager for everybody who came through the door. Their particular building is in a drug infested area. Drunks came regularly during services to see what they could get from the church. They received salvation, got off drugs and alcohol and welcomed into the body of Christ. Before this couple left the area, it was noted that when a drunk came in on the new carpets and beautiful foyer, the ushers were looking for some way to escort them from their property. Word soon got around, drunks and hurting people were no longer welcomed at the church where so many had met God for the first time.

In the several groups of ministers and pastors that I belong throughout the city and on the internet, my heart sinks each time someone asks how do we monetize what we do with the people in the church? How do we sell our ministries for funding? God should never be put on the auction block.

Be encouraged to ask yourself today, is the place I go each week a place where anybody would be welcomed? Would you allow an alcoholic to sit next to you? Perhaps someone who doesn't have the clothes and clean smell you have?

We cannot save the lost and forgotten until we have a conscience and love for them. Is someone in your congregation in need of extra love and attention, a helping hand, or just a phone call saying somebody actually cares about them?

We are watching people divorce, kids going to jail, turning to anything that will take away the pain--and these are people in the congregations because nobody really cares.

Galations 6:2 NIV "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

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