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Does Your Church Nurture Compassion?

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Welcome to The Warming House! Glad you stopped by on this cold, snowy day. It’s warm and toasty here. Hope you’re warm and toasty wherever you are.

So I’ve been working on a particular book for a lot of years. Recently, I’ve renewed my commitment to finish it. It’s been a challenge to maintain a blog – and work on a book at the same time. Today, I’ve decided to work out a section of the book through my blog. Here’s a little snippet from a chapter that addresses the Church.

Book

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Imagine a young Christian urging a friend to talk to Jeff. Jeff had been grieving his father’s death. The young Christian said, “Can you talk to Jeff and tell him to get over it and move on?” Jeff’s father had just died the week before. Only one week had passed.

Imagine a small group kicking someone out because his life was “messy” and his situation was awkward for the other members of the group. The ousted member was struggling through a really tough time in his life, and he desperately needed community. Now he had none. He was too messy.

Instead of meeting in person to talk, imagine the leader of a ministry calling a dedicated volunteer by phone to say that she’d noticed a change in that volunteer. When the volunteer confirmed that she was going through some deep challenges, imagine the ministry leader asking that person to prayerfully consider stepping down from her position without any discussion. In a later conversation when the former volunteer tells the ministry leader she would love to share her story sometime, imagine that ministry leader actually saying, “When you’re better  . . . I’d love to hear your story.”

These are all true stories. The word that comes to mind in these stories is “heartless.” That’s a brutal, blunt, but honest statement.

The “church” is comprised of Christians. We are meant to be an accurate representation of Christ in the world. When the people of this aging earth see us, they should see a glimpse of the true character of Jesus. When they’re with us, they should be able to sense his loving presence. And yet, we often crush, distort, and tarnish his image as we misrepresent him.

In a study by the Barna Group, one-fifth of those looking at the Christian faith from the outside admit they have had a bad experience in a church or with a Christian that gave them a negative image of Jesus Christ. This represents about 50 million adults in this nation. (From UnChristian by Dave Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons; Page 31)

Only one out of five “outsiders” perceive the Christian church as a loving environment. Less than half of churchgoers feel strongly that their church demonstrates unconditional love. (UnChristian; page 185)

There’s a tremendous need for the church to teach and train its people about Christian compassion.

So Church – how are you doing? You may send a lot of checks to support overseas missionaries, but how are you teaching your people to:

  • Love the messy and broken like Christ does
  • Serve like our king
  • Be merciful as he is merciful
  • Show kindness expecting nothing in return
  • Be generous as he has been generous
  • Look beyond their own needs
  • See people as he does
  • Do it all without conditions or expectations

How are you as a Church teaching your people to live a lifestyle of authentic Christian compassion as a result of Christ living in and through them? Are you mobilizing your people to engage with a hurting world as Christ did?  Are you facilitating opportunities that allow them to practice being the embodiment of the gospel message through their whole person?

God doesn’t desire bumper stickers, t-shirts, and cheesy church signs to represent him in society. He wants to represent himself through people whose hearts are surrendered to him.  Through people who allow God’s love, grace, compassion, and truth to ooze out of them. Through people who are willing to get a little messy.

How are you doing church? What are you known for? What’s your attitude toward messy people? Are you representing Christ accurately? How are you nurturing his heart of compassion in the lives of your people?

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Feel free to share your suggestions and thoughts about this little ditty from my heart. If you’d like to share this post with someone else, just click one of the buttons below.

Warming the world one heart at a time . . .

Lisa~

5 Comments

  1. vickiemunton says:

    I love the statement,
    “God doesn’t desire bumper stickers, t-shirts, and cheesy church signs to represent him in society. He wants to represent himself through people whose hearts are surrendered to him. Through people who allow God’s love, grace, compassion, and truth to ooze out of them. Through people who are willing to get a little messy.”
    …and would like to quote you on that. My heart cringes a bit when we talk about these issues saying, “the church”. Since this generation seems to look for ways to criticize God’s church, which He ordained, loves and died for, I’d rather talk more directly. Since “the church” is a body of believers, and we can’t put every person in that body in the same category, I’d rather make it a little more personal and say, “Do you, as a believer in Christ, nurture compassion?” “How are YOU doing, Christian”, etc.
    Point being, every church has had someone judge it as a whole because of an isolated incident or a disgruntled believer. I totally agree with you on the personal level, just want to stand up for our gathering of sinners saved by grace, called The Church. Thanks for listening!

  2. LMB says:

    Thanks Vickie. I agree with you about the generalizations about the church. The generalizations are prevalent among young people 16-29. Many are turning away from God altogether as a result. Except for one chapter, my book is directed specifically toward individuals. It’s purpose is to help individuals move toward living a lifestyle of authentic compassion. As a former Director of Sending Ministries in the local church, I wrote a chapter specifically for church leadership. That’s where this excerpt came from. To be very honest, I have not seen many churches at all who are being intentional about nurturing compassion in the people of their church. They are intent on the great commission and verbal sharing of the gospel, but neglect the great commandment. Mobilization of the local body of believers is not a priority in many churches either. There’s a big void there. Again – I completely get where you’re coming from. And you’re right. I love the church like you do and view her as Christ’s bride – something to be cherished and protected. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!!

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  4. vickiemunton says:

    You always make me think…I’m very grateful to my pastor/husband for making sure our church is “outward focused” as well as “fellowship based” (fellowship with God and others). I look forward to you finishing that book so I can be among the first to read it! :0)

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