Two Questions to Start With

In recent days I’ve had the opportunity to speak with a number of people who are seeking help in counseling others. They are dealing with people who have separated on an unbiblical basis, are divorcing a spouse, don’t attend church, and so forth. Increasingly, I find myself asking two questions almost immediately upon hearing about the basic problem presented. They are: “Is he/she a member of the church?” As soon as I receive an affirmative response, I find the second question coming out of my mouth almost automatically—without even thinking about it. It is: “What has the church done about it?” Too often the answer is totally dissatisfying. Wrong actions, no actions, inadequate actions—these and the like are the rule rather than the exception.

It is frightening when you think about how seldom the answer is correct. How seldom has any genuine attempt been made to follow biblical instructions. It isn’t a matter, usually, of attempting to be biblical, but struggling with it. When I find that to be true, it’s a pleasure to help such persons do the job they are trying to do. No, the majority of wrong responses are not like that at all. Instead, what you hear is some miserably feeble, non-biblical, half-genuine, attempt to meet the problem. Indeed, even more often, you discover that nothing is done. The problem has usually been ignored rather than engaged. The church that ought to be involved, typically, turns its back upon the problem and looks the other way. And people drift away into even more serious trouble. Finally, their names are quietly dropped from the role!

This is a tragic situation. The church has, more often than not, given up on its responsibilities. It has become a tragic failure in shepherding its flock. There has been extensive effort by most churches to expand its membership. Big church, marketing tactics, and the like today are the concern of churches as a whole—not their fundamental responsibilities toward their people. It’s time for the church to wake up to this failure and do something about it.

The one encouraging factor in all of this is that there are people here and there who are becoming concerned—some alarmed. Others, not knowing what the problem is, are startled when I ask my two questions. It’s almost a shock to some to them to hear anyone think and speak like that. They are startled into concern. But, here and there, people—far too few—are becoming aware of the situation and want to see change. This change in viewpoint is encouraging. You may be able to assist in this effort.

I have a suggestion. If you don’t believe me, try the following: the next time someone tells you about a person who is in trouble, ask my two questions. Then, sit back and watch the response. Then, learn more about the situation. Make an effort to point out the obvious—the church has been missing out for a long time. It’s time for this to become a national discussion, leading to sweeping change. Will you be an enabler in bringing this about?

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3 thoughts on “Two Questions to Start With

  1. As a pastor i see this all the time. When you do try and shepherd the flock some in your fold evidentially run away to less “micro-managing” churches where they receive an all too welcome greeting. We are so independent in many cases we (local churches) are working against one another in effort to establish the largest human kingdom. Knowing this is true the temptation to not shepherd one’s flock according to God’s standard increases…. If you take 1 Peter 5 and Hebrews 13:17 seriously you likely will lose members (and family members). Faithfulness often comes with a cost. Let us pray for each other in all this.

  2. Thanks so much for emphasizing the church’s role in the process. It does seem that you’re right that many church’s aren’t taking their responsibility seriously and many “counselors” seem to think that means that they then supersede the church. I appreciate your balance in this area.

  3. What if your Church/Elders respectfully disagree over whether a particular divorce is biblical? Should a member attempt to convince the church of his/her particular convictions? What should be done if the church, or even neighboring churches, never come to share the same conviction?