Areas Where the Church Needs to Step It Up

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.

  1. 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!
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

16 thoughts on “Areas Where the Church Needs to Step It Up

  1. It is hard for churches to be all things to all people. We as a church need to be aware of these issues with people but people have a misconception of what the church is there for. It is not an instant forgiver of sins without allowing the spirit to come into your heart. People tend to forget why you go to church. You are not there for the people or the classes but to give thanks and worship the lord. The surroundings and the classes should be secondary. Good post though.

  2. The church I’m currently part of handles these topics quite well. The one I came from had most of these problems you stated. Now I’m in a congregation that gives more grace, but strives for redemption and spiritual freedom. The Pastor doesn’t recommend divorce, but tells the couple remarrying it’s not going to be easy and isn’t averse to marrying divorcees. My former church would not marry divorcees, but would allow them into fellowship if they were remarried. When a man in church was found molesting/touching inappropriately, it was dealt with in a redemptive way. It’s all about seeking God’s will and not our own and compassionately dealing with the sinner as we help them in a loving way to overcome the sin.

  3. These are very important issues that need to be addressed. If we don’t welcome people into our church and into our lives, how can we fulfill the Great Commission? Jesus loved all people, and came to heal (whether physically or emotionally) the worst of the worst. I was one of those. An alcoholic, a sexually immoral, emotionally deprived and mentally exhausted young woman. Praise God some women sat down with me and welcomed me into their church – which is now MY church – and introduced me to the true Jesus who didn’t come to judge but came to seek and save the lostest of the lost. Excellent post. Thank you.

  4. Great points, Matthew! All these areas could qualify as “marginalized” people. Christians need to not bow to the status quo and actually minister to the messy, like Jesus did. I especially related to the one about mental health. It has been implied to me before that if I pray harder and have more faith, I can cure my physical disability. Luckily, that doesn’t happen often because people tend to respect the gravity of an illness they can see, but too many people do feel that same way about mental illness because it isn’t so visible.

    I also think churches need to start making their buildings accessible. It takes time and money, so I know it can’t happen overnight, but any church considering any renovations should be thinking about accessibility in 2019!

  5. I agree on all of these topics, Matthew. Some of these are why I did stop going to church when I was at a young age too. My church was becoming more of a chore than a place to go to grow towards the Lord, though I can honestly say I was drifting away from God at that point too. I would like to attend again, but finding a church I feel comfortable and safe in is something at the top of my list. With past experiences, I am almost scared to go to church, but I know I need to spend more time in the community and put more time for God into my life. Sadly I work Sundays, but someday soon I will be going again!

      1. You are very welcome brother! My church has Celebrate Recovery and has completely changed the way people in our church treat others and how it ministers to the community in general.

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