A few days ago, I read a tweet that disturbed my spirit. The one who tweeted this is young lady who is a WordPress blogger, so I know her story. She made a statement that she had difficulty attending churches because of the way she is treated. It reminded me once again that the church does not know how to minister to certain individuals. I would like to highlight these groups for the purpose of challenging us all to think about how we can do better in reaching people in these groups to overcome rather than be overcome by their circumstances.
- Divorcees – I understand that divorce is not God’s perfect plan for people. Why do I really understand? I have been there and done that. I have experienced the havoc that divorce can wreak upon a man, woman, and children. Many people in the church know what the Bible says about it. The job in the church is not to kick those suffering through divorce while they are down. Having a DivorceCare ministry is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. The mentality of the church body must change. Divorced people do not have the plague!
- Addicts – This is a messy one. But did Jesus shy away from messy? NO! In fact, he addressed the messiest people and loved them. He was constantly reaching out to societal outcasts. I’m glad some churches have a Celebrate Recovery ministry. That is wonderful! Once again, many in the church possess a mentality that those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, food, etc. are the lowest of the low. Have we considered that they are self-medicating because there is a deeper problem at hand?
- Homosexuals and those who struggle with gender identity – The church is great about screaming the verses that address this subject, but have we every really thought about the psychological struggles going on beneath the surface? Have we considered that maybe a guy did not have a male role model, was raised by women, and does not know how to live in this world as a man? Many of these people are not shaking their fist at God and choosing to be this way because they hate God. I know people who genuinely struggle in this area. It is time for the church to minister to these who are struggling in a gender-confused society. The Holy Spirit is still at work and can work on people.
- Those who struggle with mental health issues – This is another thing that the church has made progress in, but I still read responses to those reaching out for help and want to come through my app and give some people a revelation. Many factors contribute to mental illness. Those struggling with mental illness do not need you telling them to rebuke it in Jesus’ name, read more Scripture, or pray more. I can testify to the fact that I tried every bit of that to still struggle with depression. I screamed warfare prayers, quoted warfare Scriptures, sang victory songs, and did everything that I heard I was supposed to do. And please don’t say my faith was weak! The government and the church are failing in addressing mental health. It’s time for a change!
- Those who have been abused – The church does not know how to address those who have been physically or sexually abused. It is not enough to tell some girl who was raped by her father that she needs to forgive him and move on. Someone who has experienced such a traumatic event has layers of issues that will take a long time to heal. Recently, several churches were called out for knowingly hiding sexual abuse that happened within the walls of the church. I have even heard pastors blame women because their husbands physically abused them. Come on! This has to stop!
- Those struggling with eating disorders – This is an awareness that has been heightened by people like Caralyn at beautybeyondbones.com. If you don’t follow her site, you should. Other followers on Twitter struggle with this. Today’s society progress a bad idea about the “perfect” image. These people need love too and help as they learn to accept who they are in Christ.
- Those of another race – We are too quick to accept society’s stereotype of particular races without hearing from those whose culture and race is different. It’s time to sit down, put the past behind, and really listen to their perspective. If we never have these honest discussions, we will continue to fail in this area.
What would I suggest that needs to happen?
- Provide classes to the church that are led by trained professionals in these areas. Nine times out of ten, pastors do not receive the adequate training to address these issues. Do an interview style sermon. Educate the people.
- Create a judgment-free zone where these who are struggling can find hope and help. It starts with the leadership and trickles down. Teach this stuff from the pulpit. Rebuke those who are harsh toward these individuals.
- As a leader, pray, study, and study some more. Be intentional about talking to people who struggle in these areas. It’s time to change this view of the church. Ignorance and laziness are poor excuses.