One of my favorite Gospel stories is that of Jesus' encounter with the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. This guy had been hanging out there for nearly 40 years, and every day when the water stirred, he couldn't get in to get healed because he couldn't move and the crowds stepped over him, around him, on him to push their own way in. Jesus healed him on the spot.
My fear is that our churches are set up like this. With entertainment-driven self-help seminars passing for worship, we stir the waters dramatically and provide "help" for those capable and strong enough to "get theirs." File in, get what you need, file out till next time. And I believe our churches are full of people who need to be met where they are, who need a touch from Jesus, but who are coming away lacking because they need an intervention of grace, not an invitation to get bigger, stronger, faster.
How do we identify these people? How do we minister strategically to the hurting and marginalized in our churches, the ones not cool or hip enough, the ones not savvy enough, the ones not "ideal" to our demographic or what-have-you?
As we run our churches like businesses, as streamlined and professional as possible, with pastors more akin to CEOs than to shepherds, how do we keep them from slipping through the cracks?
In general, how do we gauge the spiritual health of the people in our local church? Strictly through attendance? I hope not.
I realize not every pastor can personally minister to every congregant. But who does? And how do we ensure it is happening?
Honest questions . . .
(Btw, if you are a pastor/preacher/leader, I'd like to respectfully request you check out my previous Leadership Conundrum entry and submit any feedback you feel appropriate.)