Dear pastor, do you groan when you think of me?
What does your pastor think about when he thinks about you? Perhaps you belong to a larger church where your pastor does not know you. What does your small group leader think about when he thinks about you? Are you a joy to pastor?
Perhaps you belong to a church, but you have not committed to that church. If that is the case, I appeal to you to commit to your church so your pastor can provide the people and contexts you need to receive care.
Think about this for a minute. In Hebrews, the writer tells the local church members to let their pastor care for them with joy, not with groaning.
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. — Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
Does the person who exercises spiritual authority over you at your local church groan or express joy when he thinks about you? Unfortunately, in our buffet-style-mentality, many Christians do not have a strong, active, and committed tethering to their local church.
I commonly counsel people who have a small commitment to their local churches. This kind of low view of the church invites sin into their lives. It’s not unusual to find a connection between low church commitment and personal or familial dysfunction.
Paul wrote most of his letters to local churches. His appeals for sanctification were not primarily to individuals, but to local churches. You can draw an accurate assumption from Paul’s writings that Christians belonged and committed to a local church. That is simply not true in our day.
The the under-committed
If you attend a local church but your commitment is not active in that local church, I appeal to you to determine if your current church is for you. If it is, I further appeal to commit to your church fully. One of the ways you can do this is by allowing them to care for you with joy.
When I pastored, I found it especially difficult when someone came to our church but would not commit to our church. It is analogous to a divorced dad trying to parent his children every other weekend. Even if he wanted to parent his kids well every other weekend, he would still be a part-time dad.
Small to no commitment to a local church is also analogous to a man who cuts his leg from his body while assuming it will survive. While you know this kind of self-injury is abnormal, some Christians do not see anything wrong with spiritual disconnectedness from their local church.
To the committed
Do you let your pastor care for you with joy? How do you know if he is full of joy or full of groans when he thinks about you? How about if you ask your spiritual authority how he thinks about you?
This kind of feedback provides you with an excellent opportunity to serve your pastor. Imagine if your child came to you and asked similar questions. Imagine if your child’s desire was to bring joy to your life. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Your pastor would feel similar if you sought to step up to that kind of personal responsibility.
The local church is like a “spiritual hospital.” It is the God-ordained context where God’s people can find spiritual help in the time of their need. However, the local church is made up of the sum of its parts, and if there are “parts” who don’t commit to the local church, those “parts” will weaken the entire body.
Don’t be a free radical
Free radicals are molecules that cause aging, tissue damage, and possibly diseases. These molecules are unstable. They look to connect with other molecules, so they can collectively destroy the vigor of the body — a detrimental process.
The uncommitted church attender appears to be part of the local body but is not. Don’t be a free radical. Make your local church healthy by fully committing to it.
Call to action
- Share these ideas with your pastor or nearest spiritual mentor.
- Ask the person what they think about when they think of you.
- Specifically, ask if you are a joy to care for and lead.
- Share Hebrews 13:17, and ask if he groans when he thinks about you.
Originally published at Rick Thomas.