I recently read an account of a pastor who decided to leave the ministry. Unfortunately, that’s not an uncommon event. However, what was sadly unusual in this particular case was the primary reason this pastor gave for hanging it up. It wasn’t denominational politics, tension within the congregation, trouble in the home, or financial concerns.
No, what led this pastor to resign was the fact that people were consistently disappearing from the church when their lives were breaking down. In other words, as people were falling apart, they were also falling away. Congregants who were experiencing divorce, separation, depression, alcoholism, job loss, or severe illness apparently did not find the church a welcoming place of comfort, care, and compassion, but as a place to avoid. In the pastor’s own words, “I was sorry that church did not strike these wounded souls as a place they could bring the dark fruits of their equally dark nights.” As much as grace was being preached in the pulpit, it apparently wasn’t being practiced in the pew.
Is that the situation in each church? I hope not. But, the church is only a gathering of individuals. People, like you and me, who either extend God’s mercy, grace and comfort to those sitting next to us, or who miss the opportunity. If you and I don’t reach out in mercy to those with dark fruit borne from dark nights – who will? –Dave
“Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matt 18:33)
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