It was about 2:00 in the afternoon on a cool February day.
I was in the office typing away when the call came. There was a women in the front office that needed to speak to someone.
As women’s ministry director, I was that someone.
As I entered the area of our church where visitors wait, I spotted my guest. She was an older African-American woman, wearing a tattered overcoat. She had very short gray hair, a huge toothless grin and beautiful, sparkling brown eyes. I would have guessed she was at least 75-80 years old.
According to our receptionist, she lived in the neighborhood and had walked down to the church needing to speak to someone.
I took her hand and introduced myself, and then I led her back to my office so we could talk.
In time, she told me her story and shared of some of the challenges she had lived through. Life had not been easy for her, but she was okay and “happy to be moving and breathing.” (her words)
We talked about her spiritual condition, and she professed that Jesus was her Lord and Savior.
I gave her some books, a Bible and some other materials. Then, I prayed for her and told her I would drive her back home.
As we were advancing the few blocks back to her little corner house, I felt like there was something more that she wanted to say.
As we pulled into the gravel driveway, I asked her if there was anything else I could do for her.
It was a moment I will never forget.
She looked out the window and then looked down at her hands, as if embarrassed.
In a quiet and humble voice, she simply said,
“My kids are off at work, there’s no food in the house, and I was hungry.
So I walked down to the church to see if you might have some food. I was hungry.”
For 2 hours, I’d taken care of this woman’s emotional and spiritual well-being; however, what she really needed was something to eat.
How had I been so clueless?
What had I been thinking?
How did I not notice?
I felt so stupid.
I could have crawled under my car at that point.
I was so embarrassed that I had lectured and prayed and talked this poor woman to death.
For 2 hours, she had patiently waited.
She was just hungry.
All she really needed was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of hot soup.
I really missed it that day.
As she walked to her door, I told her I’d be back with some food. I drove to the local grocery and bought her enough healthy, comfort food to keep her from starving.
And, from that point forward, that little lady’s house stood as a reminder to me to make sure I was handling people according to their greatest hurts and needs.
Each time I would pass her house (which was on my daily route to work), I would be reminded – people are in need out there.
Sometimes people’s needs are not for prayer or for books or for an eloquent Gospel presentation.
Sometimes people just need something to eat.
I WONDER – are other church members and staff members making the same mistake that I made on that cold day?
Are they trying to meet the wrong needs first?
According to the Barna Research Group, the number of unchurched and uninterested adults is rising.
- In the 1990’s, only 30% of adults were unchurched.
- In 2003, 33% of adults were unchurched.
- Today, 45% of adults are unchurched and the numbers are growing.
Further, many of the used-to-be-active in church members are pulling away and becoming less active. They are attending fewer services and participating in fewer church and religious activities.
What are we to do as pastors, pastors’ wives, ministers, deacons and wives, leaders, teachers and concerned church members?
How are we to reach the unreached group and re-reach the used-to-be-reached group?
These are the questions I hope to answer over the next few Wednesdays – “Why Are Our Churches Losing More People & Not Adding Any New People? And, what can we do about it?”
For today, I’ll conclude with this…
Maybe we need to put away some of our polished plans and programs and just start reaching out to the true needs of those around us.
Maybe we need to make them some soup and a sandwich first, and then ask them if they know our Savior.
Maybe we need to look them in the eyes and show them the love of Christ.
Maybe we’re doing it all wrong.
Over and over in Jesus’s earthly ministry, He had COMPASSION on the people.
Maybe that’s what we all need a little more of ourselves – compassion.
I know I sure do!
Why are we losing so many church members?
Why are we not adding new members to our flocks?
What can pastors, leaders, and church members do?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!
**And, would you do me a favor — if this article has helped you today — would you share it with someone else?
~ I regularly link to these AMAZING SITES~
For more on the decline in church attendance, see this link:
For more on the compassion of Jesus, see these links:
© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.