Jump Start # 2018
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with one another.”
Yesterday we took a look at challenges that face today’s church. In that Jump Start we addressed the special needs child, paying the preacher’s salary and finding the help to keep up with technology. There are other challenges. Greater challenges. People challenges. We will explore those today.
About our passage, listed here are the unruly, the fainthearted and the weak. There are reasons why some are like this. With the help Paul advised, these folks could change. The unruly could become a team player. The fainthearted could become courageous. The weak could become strong. People do not stay the same. We tend to put everyone in categories, with nice labels and then we keep them that way, forever. We do not allow the unruly to be cooperative. We will always remember how he once was. That sticks with us. The weak will always be weak to us. That not only isn’t fair, it isn’t something that we’d like others to do to us. We haven’t always been as we are. We’ve grown, changed and gotten better. People gave us a chance.
People challenges that churches face today:
- The volume of people. In many cities today, there are large congregations. This is fairly new. It wasn’t too long ago that one could count, on one hand, the congregations throughout the country that numbered around 300. There are many today. Those large sizes involve lots of people. Every person has a history, needs, baggage and trials and temptations that they face. Every one of them. Often, the shepherds of the church are so busy that they only deal with the train wrecks that happen. The teenage pregnancy. The divorce. The one arrested. The one kicked out school. The addiction. Major problems. But so many others may be headed for their own train wreck and possibly some could be prevented, but the number of people involved can be staggering.
What can be done? First, more need to see the valuable importance of leading God’s people. More elders. This takes time and sometimes there just aren’t any more. Second, continuing to teach solid, practical Biblical lessons about living for Christ. Teach. Teach. Teach. Third, you who are spiritual, restore such a one, is what we find in Galatians. More folks need to help out, get involved and have a voice that leads to Christ.
- The complexity of problems takes time. The parents with a prodigal who sits in a jail. Simply writing a card or sharing a verse doesn’t do all that they need. The young mother who, because of a divorce, is now struggling with jobs, bills, parenting all on her own. She needs help. Again, just a card or sharing a verse won’t do all that she needs. The grieving widow who is scared and alone for the first time in her life. She has to make some important decisions and again, simply a card or a verse doesn’t supply all that she needs. The complexity of issues and problems takes a lot of time. That is a challenge. The larger the congregation, the more of this is found. Long discussions. Multiple meetings. Many trips to visit. This is what comes with our fellowship and our love. When we look at our verse today, who would help the weak, encourage the fainthearted and admonish the unruly? Those who were spiritual. Pouring all the attention on the weak, leaves the unruly to continue his spiral downward. Ignoring the fainthearted because of dealing with the unruly may lead to their departure, permanently.
What can be done? Keep in touch is foremost. Open lines of communication. Share the load. Pray often. Try to look at every sheep. How is everyone doing? Don’t assume. Be efficient and organized and keep your ears open.
- There are some issues that we do not understand well. Mental illness is that way. Most of us do not understand it. Most would think, just don’t be that way. It’s not that easy. We don’t understand why a person needs so many meds for what they are going through. It’s hard to understand addictions, whether it’s alcohol, drugs, gambling, spending or porn. Most do not understand eating disorders. Most compulsive behavior is beyond our understanding. Just telling an anorexic woman, “Go eat,” won’t end her problems. Just telling a transgender teenager, ‘dress like a boy,” won’t end his problems.
This is an area that has always bothered me. There isn’t much in the Scripture about mental illness. Demon possession wasn’t the same thing. It’s hard to understand why someone is the way they are. It’s harder to understand what to suggest.
What can be done? It might help to find a professional counselor in the area that the elders can interview and have confidence in. One that is conservative in thinking and is pro-marriage. One that stands upon the Word of God. When difficult challenges come, elders and preachers can help spiritually, that is our field, but these other areas are beyond us. Suggest that they see someone that you have confidence in. Decisions have to be made about paying for it if the person cannot. Sending a person away without options, without help isn’t going to solve nor deal with any of these challenges.
There are many dysfunctional and broken homes in America today. People growing up in these environments often leave with issues and baggage that they carry most of their lives. Some carry these issues into their marriages and their parenting. It gets messy. It’s complicated. There are many who have been abused—verbally, emotionally and sexually. They carry fresh wounds. These problems include dealing with the past, forgiving, blame and moving on.
Leadership of elders and preachers need to study about people. Lessons in classes and sermons about forgiveness, family and love must be considered from where many are today. We are facing and talking about things that never were talked about two generations ago. You don’t read about these things in the old papers that brethren wrote.
A loving church would never send someone away because they are different or has issues. They will work with a person. They will help a person. They will point that person to Jesus. But realize, there is an air of challenges all around that person. Some in the congregation wish they would go somewhere else. Some may be suspicious and cold toward that person. Sometimes there are some bumping that takes place. Words are said. Just like kids at home, we need to be reminded that we are a family and no one is going anywhere else.
These challenges are tough, but we have to believe and trust the Lord. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, is what John wrote. With God, we can do all things. The right love, with the Scriptures and good can be accomplished.
These are the challenges that we face today.