Hurting souls visit churches all across America every Sunday. But they aren’t impressed with a good sermon, or how many are in attendance, or whether or not the offerings have made the budget. All they want is relief from their pain, and they come seeking your God with hopes of finding answers to mend their brokenness.
Today, many pastors offer strong, well-crafted sermons, plush sanctuaries, dynamite youth and children’s ministries with spacious game rooms, playgrounds and arcades, while the sanctuary ministers to adults with eye-popping contemporary services. Cool bands play worship, evangelists rock the house with passionate pleas; offerings are up, and larger crowds fill empty seats.
And yet, the hurting soul leaves unimpressed and perhaps worse, unnoticed.
Could it be that we can be so preoccupied with successful ministry that we fail to notice those for whom it was meant most to serve? Would it be a stretch for me to say in some churches, the ministry itself could be the most lethal landmine that threatens them?
Pastor, did you notice whether or not a hurting soul was sitting in your back row last Sunday?
Jesus always noticed. Always. He wasn’t interested in the multitudes. He looked through the crowd to see the man born blind, or the lame paralytic, or the shunned leper and the outcast demoniac. He never allowed Himself to be distracted by his own popularity, performance or public opinion.
Jesus never lost sight of His purpose. He reminded His disciples, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save those who are lost…” and those who are disenfranchised; those who are forgotten and hurting; those who perhaps walked out of a church for the last time in search of a bar, where at least, someone knows their name.
Is it possible for a pastor to have great success in ministry, and God hate everything he’s doing? Most small to mid-size church pastors don’t have to worry about being too large or popular, but they can still be distracted by their own ministries.
Across America, many church people leave feeling more informed, stronger in faith, staunchly moral and politically correct, and all that is good! But let’s also teach them to leave with a mission to fulfill- The mission to love and pray for the one lost soul for whom God searches. And when they find him and minister to his brokenness, they are likely to feel God’s pleasure and the warmth of His Presence!