I've been greatly burdened to have so many people in our church family to be in physical need. With a church the size of Calvary, it is inevitable that some part of our church family will be in distress with physical needs or the loss of a loved one nearly every week. Honestly there are times it is just overwhelming to me as a human pastor. Many times I find myself so burdened for the physical and emotional needs of people in the church it’s hard for me to concentrate on messages I need to be preparing as Sunday morning and Wednesday night roll around with great regularity and frequency. Then I'll hear a little bit of feedback on occasion that someone doesn't feel like they are being cared for properly by the pastor. This breaks my heart as a shepherd that one of my sheep is in distress and all I'm able to do at that moment is pray for them. Well the "all I can do is pray" thing is the most important thing I can do for them. I'm thankful for a great staff and deacons who take the pastoral care seriously and serve as extensions of my arms to care for you. Please know if they come and minister to you they share the heart of your pastor and his concern for you, they represent me but more importantly they represent the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then there are seasons in the church family where on top of the physical need, the wheels come off and disaster strikes. It could be some tragic trauma, sudden accident, or it could be someone stumbles and falls into sin that becomes very public in nature because of the type of sin they are ensnared with or they got arrested in the process of their sin. Our first response upon hearing of this kind of disaster among the body should be a broken and contrite heart that begins to pray for the individual(s) involved. One thing I've learned about these times of disaster and public sin in people's lives is that Christians are notorious for shooting their wounded soldiers who fall on the battlefield by how we respond to such situations. We talk about it, we gossip, speculate and criticize to the detriment of the persons involved, to the church and the testimony of the Lord before a lost world that is watching. We will turn people off to the Gospel and they'll want nothing to do with being a disciple of Jesus Christ if that's how we operate. The Scriptures give us instruction on what to do when disastrous sin entangles a believer. Paul said in Galatians 6:1-2 “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
These are simple and straightforward instructions of how we are to respond when one of us gets tangled in Satan’s web of sin. Our aim is to be restoration of the individual – helping them to get back on track spiritually and in fellowship with the body. We are to conduct ourselves in a spiritual manner in a spirit of gentleness. This means we’re careful to not cause more hurt and damage in an already difficult situation. But we’re also to keep watch on ourselves because we could be ensnared in sin also so we guard against that. Bearing one another’s burdens – we do that in prayer. We don’t put our mouths in gear to talk about it to others; we simply talk to God about the situation.
This brings me to deacons and deacon ministry. They are the individuals God has given to His church to assist the pastoral staff in ministering when there is distress and downright disaster going on in a member’s life. According to 1st Timothy 3, God holds them to the same standard as He holds pastors to so they will not take advantage of anyone in difficulty. I called on one of our deacons Monday evening to respond with me to a situation where one of members was caught in sin and disaster has overtaken. The details will become known soon enough but we’ve already begun the process of restoration and caring for this distressed member and his family. How we respond as a church will be critical to show the lost around us how Christians are to care for our wounded. I’m determined to lead us to respond Biblically and in a way that brings glory to God.
I’m also burdened as I’ve talked with deacons who are approaching men about the possibility of serving alongside them as deacons. Often, the response is “I do not feel like I’m called to do that” or “I do not feel like I’m worthy to do that.” I think there are some false notions about what deacon ministry is all about when I hear that type of response. Acts 6 helps clarify what deacons do – aid the pastors with pastoral care and solve disputes. The initial qualifications were twofold: of good reputation, full of the Spirit and full of wisdom. You say “Pastor, you can’t count that’s three.” I would respond its two because if you’re full of the Spirit, you’re full of wisdom and He will give you what you need when you need it. So men, if you are approached or have been, do not base your response on how you feel. You’re being asked to serve because someone observes these two qualities in you. Pray about it and let God call or not call you, but let God decide who He wants to help us aid the body in distress and disaster. It’s not just the burden of the pastors or individual deacons, we bear these burdens together…from my little corner of the world to yours…
Pastor Ralph Green
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church www.calvarybelair.com