Before I continue from where I left off on yesterday, I would like to take time to thank everyone who posted their comments and concerns regarding this topic. This article has reached many people including people who wouldn’t normally entertain my style of writing. This lets me know that this is a serious concern within our Faith and if we continue to encourage an open and healthy dialogue between one another, we can take better steps towards restoring the wounded lost sheep of God (while retaining those we’ve won to Christ).
I recently went to a biblical counseling seminar and there was one thing that stuck out in my mind that the instructor mentioned:
‘People will come once you allow them to address their issues’
I would like to add to that and say: the wounded people of God will be restored once the Church acknowledges, reaches out to them and allow them to address their wounds. If the Church doesn’t make God’s wounded sheep a priority it will be hard for them to find a way to come back and they will be left as prey to those who pretend to profess Christ or to a whole other ideology of thinking that’s contrary to The Gospel.
What if some argue,
“This isn’t a major issue in the church because those who have left the church because of being wounded is not a part of the majority” or “Most of the time people who leave the church are those who have taken offense so it’s up to them to find their way back”?
I would first have to expose the fact that people usually see an offense as an issue brought about by someone’s own personal perception of a matter and as a result, them (the offended) needing to deal with it on their own. But it’s the blatant abuse and neglect towards the things of God that drives people out of the house of God, not a simple offense. Furthermore, I would point them to the parables of The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Lost Son (Matthew 18 & Luke 15) where Jesus emphasizes the extreme measures our Heavenly Father will take even for one of His children who has become lost. Therefore, I can’t express enough how important this issue is to God and should be to us.
Now, yesterday I left off with passages from Ezekiel 34 that pertained to a harsh word against the shepherds of Israel due to their abuse and disregard in caring for God’s people. God blamed the shepherds for not making his people a priority and as a result, lost them and became prey to the enemies of God. God gave them the responsibility of leading, guiding and nourishing his people. Instead, these shepherds abused their titles and neglected their responsibilities. Even after doing all of this, they could’ve possibly redeemed themselves in the sight of God. Yes, I truly believe God would have had a change of heart towards the shepherds if they would’ve at least gone out to look for them but they were too busy fulfilling what mattered to themselves.
The affect the wounded lost has on the Church today.
In essence, a wounded brother can lead to an immobile brother and eventually an exiled brother.
Some may think this isn’t a matter worth bringing up but we should be more open to addressing all issues that pertain to the body of Christ. Why? Because if left unaddressed, will eventually hinder the Body of Christ and can lead to God’s direct judgement. Honestly, this part is a bit difficult for me to address because these days, people don’t like to talk about being judged for lack of accountability. Nevertheless, as uncomfortable this subject may be, we have to talk about the things we are held responsible for as God’s overseers if we want to grow and promote healing.
Reaching Out to the Wounded
Anne Peterson, a fellow blogger at www.annepeterson.com has been following this subject with us and she made a comment that gave me insight as to why the wounded lost are now also an unreached population. She said:
“Perhaps it’s easier to pursue the unreached, those far away. They can be counted more easily. Those with wounds take longer. The wounded have messy lives. And some just don’t think it’s worth their time. But one of the saddest things is this, some label the wounded as those unwilling to get help. And some are unable.”
This couldn’t be truer! Encountering those who have been wounded by the Church does seem to bring about muddled situations mainly stemming from trust issues (which is once again a topic within itself) the wounded have against the Church. However, we should feel the same way God feels about them and have the same care for them as He does because He has called us to go beyond the kind of faith that only reaches ourselves but to produce the kind of faith that:
loose the bonds of wickedness,
undo the heavy burdens,
let the oppressed go free,
break every yoke,
causes us to share with the hungry,
bring to our house the poor who are cast out [by those who have abused them] and to
clothe and cover the naked.
(Isaiah 58:6, 7 Paraphrased. Brackets mine)
Whose Job is it?
In Ezekiel 34, God expressed that it was the job of the shepherds (which were the priests) to go out and find His lost and abused sheep. So, we would then naturally translate the shepherds in Ezekiel to be the pastors of our churches. However, biblically, a shepherd of God was a task that was given to several different groups of people in leadership which included the priests first, then the Levites, kings, princes and judges. Translated into our time, shepherds are not just the pastors but it’s also anyone who God gives the influence to lead, guide and facilitate growth and development towards his children. When we see it from this aspect, it’s our pastors, teachers, preachers, parents and mentors who are accountable to God for making sure His sheep are taken care of; those who have authority and influence over another.
Tools needed to seek the wounded lost
I felt like it was important to conclude with a model of some of the things I believe every church needs to start seeking the wounded lost. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen these implemented in a few churches but I’m convinced that if we would implement these tools in every Christian church, it would began the restoration process:
- Creating and implementing a counseling team
Equip the mature in Christ who have a desire to counsel and develop a team that includes understanding confidentiality, follow up, and accountability to the pastor as well as to one another. Counseling is an underutilized gift that brings healing and restoration to the wounded and it doesn’t have to be solely the job of the pastor but also to everyone who God holds responsible for making sure his sheep are taken care of.
- Create an outreach team
Those who have been wounded by the church are less likely to want to come back so we have to go to them! When we encounter them, the last thing that may want to talk about is visiting your church. This will take time. So start off by asking God to help you meet their needs. Creating an outreach team is a great way to help bind the wounds of the wounded.
- Pray for the wounded
Helping people get past devastating hurts may take some time so we must never minimize, dumb down or overlook their experiences. Although we have so many things that we need to pray for concerning the body of Christ, we should still include the wounded in our prayers because it’s still a very important issue to God. Remember, God placed a horrendous judgement on the shepherds of Israel because his sheep became lost and wounded.
My prayer is for every Christian church to implement these things into their ministry. Although it may not be a full answer, it’s a start!