60 Seconds of Pastoral Pondering
(A blog for leaders)
It was a prayer request during a service. It was supposed to have been, “Please pray for all the unsaved loved ones.” But instead the words came out backwards and we were asked to pray for all the “unloved saved ones.”
We smiled at this innocent gaffe and proceeded to remember all those we love who were not yet believers. But I kept going back to the ‘unloved saved ones’ and found myself looking around at those near me.
Might some of them be saved, but unloved? Oh, they’re loved by God but they may attend services completely isolated from their spiritual family. And the further tragedy is that there are many who populate our congregations who have no physical family anywhere around them. We’re all they’ve got!
Is it enough? God tells us that He sets the solitary in families.(Psalm 68:6)
Shouldn’t we be consciously helping him in this task? It’s one thing to sense the warmth of God’s love, but it was also meant to come from those around us. Who is looking out for the isolated and lonely in our congregations?
Even as I write this I am thinking about an elderly man who sits near us on Sundays. He sits in the same end seat … comes in alone … worships quietly … and leaves with few touches on his life. Does he go home to an empty house? Can he relate his experience in the house of God with anyone around him who cares?
Pastoring is busy stuff. Few of us have time to become social directors to those who worship with us week by week. But could we make a difference by noticing the lonely? They’re not always easy to spot … some sport smiles designed to mask their isolation.
The church is a place of wonderful fellowship. Greetings are shared, hugs are exchanged, plans for dining after service are exchanged and it’s all part of the fellowship of the believer. But are there those who don’t quite know how to break into the ‘family circle’ and walk away even more lonely than they came by virtue of being surrounded by friendships they do not participate in?
I doubt it would add anything additional to your plate to ask God to make you aware of the ‘unloved saved ones’ who consider your church to hopefully be their link with others of faith. Keep your spiritual eyes open. God will help you find them.
You might even find your best ‘networker’ among your greeters … those wonderful people who don’t know a stranger and engage others easily. Ask them to begin hunting down the lonely and endeavoring to link them with someone who could either use a friend or has room in their life for just one more!
Let’s make sure we disconnect “unloved” from the “saved.”