Church members often feel the leaders don’t hear their cries, don’t help to heal their hurts, and do not give proper attention to their personal and family problems. Others feel the church does not assist them sensibly in their social, relational, and employment struggles. The bottom line is that most people feel distant from their church and its leadership and as a result often feel abused. Attending church on a Sunday is great, but that alone does not provide the cohesiveness that is required. We need a Care Revolution.
To our amazement, when we started focusing our church on caring for people, we found to our dismay that often our people were not regularly visited and prayed within hospitals—or at least not systematically. Individuals in nursing homes and other aged and infirm people felt neglected, while yet others thought they did not receive the attention they deserved concerning spiritual matters. All of this was happening primarily because, in most cases, the ministry was being left to a select few people to do. We discovered our church needed a Care Revolution.
And it’s not that our folk had no concern for their fellow church members; it’s more a matter of them not knowing how to reach out to others resolutely. People seem to come to church and then unassumingly leave without sincerely showing interest in what’s happening in the lives of other people. But then it almost looks like a paradox! While they are longing for a relationship, they become reclusive in their attitude.
Our church was certainly not unfriendly. But what we discovered was that our people were often gathering in groups, seemingly lost in their delightful conversation but oblivious to those who were desperately seeking connection. These were typically individuals in leadership or those more prominent in the operation of the church. But the quiet, withdrawn, and less-known members and visitors many times felt ignored and wondered if anyone even knew of their existence. They walked in, and they walked out, and nobody seemed to care. This action usually causes a distant feeling by people, which creates the vacuum in relationships.
The truth of the matter is that leaders, who are substantially engaged in ministry, don’t sense the reality of relational depravity. If they need attention, care, or support, it’s usually freely available. I have found over-and- over that those people who are noticeable in the church or have been in leadership a long time, or even members forever, usually say they don’t need someone to care for them. “We don’t need someone to be there for us,” they say. “We have a pastor if we need one.” Prominent as these people are, they may be correct when they say they don’t need additional attention, but unfortunately, it creates the impression that nobody else needs care or attention.
These leaders find their fellowship, love, and acceptance in the long-term relationships they have built with each other over the years. However, this is traditional thinking has led the church to stagnation. In their minds, the congregation is being taken care of, and they need do no more. But those who are further away from the core are frequently left in the cold, many times struggling on their own and seemingly never receive any meaningful attention. To them, the church as a body has become useless.
The more we consider these things, the more we will realize how much we need a Care Revolution. Many of our people are going unnoticed—feeling distant and uncared for by their church. If they are not in with the in-crowd, they are out. It is quite often the quiet and reserved people that do not get the attention they should.
Can we honestly afford to continue this way? Are we secretly just hoping it will get better? Do we think the needs of people will disappear, or that they don’t expect our attention? Or do we assume people will understand that times have changed and that we are all busy, and then just get over it?
The basic answer to these questions is: No, it will never change! No, they will never understand! People are people, and their human needs will never change. There is a biblical expectation for us to care for those God has entrusted to us. Reality beckons us to answer the question: If we are not taking care of those God has already sent us, why should He send us anymore? We need a Care Revolution.
This article is an excerpt from Dr. John W. Bosman’s book, Care Revolution: A Proven New Paradigm for Pastoral Care