Dear Haley

Dear Haley,

I was so glad you received my last email, and very happy to hear from you. It’s also excellent to feel a solid connection to your pastor. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. But let me tell you, even if your pastor’s personality ends up rubbing you the wrong way, it’s still a comfort to know that he’s the one God sent to bring you His word. You may not know why at those times, but it’s still a comfort.

There’s only enough space in one message to say something about the first problem you mentioned: when members don’t seem to care much about the mission of their church. It’s always hard to see that, but we have to remember that there’s a lot we may not see. Read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 sometime to see the variety of spiritual gifts that may exist in a church. Not all of them will be visible all the time. Some of our Christian brothers and sisters will be shy, for example. But if they spend some time each day praying for the various branches of ministry in the congregation, they are contributing just as much as a person who brings a friend to church every other week.

Another thing that can happen is when church members lose their focus on the whole mission of the Church. They may think that only one or two aspects of Christ’s mission are important, and ignore the others. They may even take offense when someone speaks about another aspect of our mission as important and worthy of our attention. This is one way that the devil sows seeds of strife in our Lord’s Church.

A slightly skewed perspective in one or more people paired with an attitude lacking in love can magnify the sins of other Christians instead of covering them up (see 1 Peter 4:8). Bad news travels faster than good news, and gossip faster still. James chapter 3 warns us sternly about the damage that can be done with the tongue. Damage to ourselves, to others, and to the whole body of Christ. I suppose that some churches go through hard times because wagging tongues have unjustly damaged their reputation or the pastor’s reputation.

Haley, my advice is to be careful about how and where you express your frustrations concerning other members. If you speak directly to some of those members who seem less dedicated, someone is certain to learn something important! Either you will learn more about them or they may be re-energized in their appreciation for God’s gifts and their dedication to His mission. Be sure to let me know how it goes.

I’ll have to touch on your other comments in another message. Until then, may our Lord keep you in the palm of His almighty and gracious hand.

In Him,

Uncle Ed

Hi Uncle Ed,

Thanks so much for your advice about talking to other people in the church! I wasn’t sure how to approach one woman, so I told her that I wanted to help in the church, but wasn’t sure what I could do. She told me that she prays every night, including the pastor, his family, and even the sister church 25 miles away and their school. She also makes a point to pray for the synod and all our missions. I never would have known this if I hadn’t asked her. At her suggestion, I’ve made a list of people and things to pray about at church.

The strangest thing happened, too. I was praying for an opportunity to share my faith with someone at work. Would you believe that three days later, the opportunity just fell into my lap? I don’t know what will happen next with my coworker, but at least I can be sure he’s heard about Jesus. Maybe next time I see him I’ll invite him to my church.

Now more than ever, I think it’s important that our church members work together. Maybe it will be daily prayers for some of us, but I know that God can provide the opportunities we need to do things too. If only I could get everyone else as excited as I am about sharing the gospel!

It sounds like you’ll be writing about something else in my previous message, so I won’t add much to this one.

Blessings to you through Jesus!