Some things are becoming clearer to me the longer I am a pastor. The different ways in which Jesus Christ touches the lives of people to reveal their need for Him is becoming clearer. The church’s commission and responsibility to love and minister to this fallen world is becoming clearer. It is becoming clearer to me how the Lord uses imperfect people in service for His kingdom. It is also becoming clearer to me that we (church leaders) make assumptions about ministry and people that are false and potentially harmful to the cause of Christ.
We assume everyone should conduct themselves the same in church whether they are a Christian or not. This is not possible. Being “in the building” does make you a Christian. Being in a relationship with Jesus Christ does. This relationship brings about change in behavior. We assume the language we use when communicating is always understood. The “churchy” terms and phrases we use may mean something different to each person. People are sometimes left scratching their heads wondering what foreign language they just heard. We assume everyone knows the mechanics of connecting to a church body. Entering the “church” world can be an intimidating and overwhelming. Here we assume that everyone already knows how to join the church and why they should. The danger in assuming they will figure it out on their own is this: instead of connecting and belonging, they will simply drift away – frustrated, discouraged, and disappointed.
I wonder how many people want to connect themselves to a local church, but don’t know how to make that happen. I wonder how often our processes frustrate the individual rather than facilitating their entry. As church leaders, we must be aware that at times the “mechanics” of connecting get in the way. As church leaders, we must be careful to not let the “how-to” cloud the “why.” I believe we have the responsibility as church leaders to remove the man-made obstacles and barriers so that when the Lord speaks to their hearts, the only decision is obedience.