A warm evangelism spirit is essential for a congregation to be healthy. New people need to feel important, noticed, embraced, and a part of the family. It is just as important, however, that a congregation pay attention to people who were once spiritually active and no longer seem to demonstrate a pulse. The strayers are as important as the seekers.
Your congregation most likely has a group that is tasked with connecting with the straying. Perhaps they are called a care team or a board of elders. Their mission is people’s spiritual well-being. They are chosen for their maturity, leadership ability, people skills, and knowledge of the Word. Here are the activities and attitudes that St. Paul wanted to see in a congregation’s spiritual leaders: “Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
Your elders can help you in your own efforts to reclaim a straying friend or family member. They will show you how to access your congregation’s education and caring programs. They will pray for you and make sure you get a warm welcome and personal attention if you are able to bring someone back to church for a visit.
You can help build up the elders with prayer and words of encouragement. Spiritual mentoring and people management can often be exhausting and frustrating for these elders, and they need your help too. Love your elders.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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