DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–The church does not exist as a means of providing entertainment and comfortable experiences for the faithful. How many times have you heard those who ramble from one church to another complain, “How I wish I could just find a church that could minister to my needs”? So many of us are busy looking for selfish temporary blessings that have no root in the Lord.
The Christian church should not be about receiving, but rather about giving. Certainly the greatest experience for a saved individual lies in learning the true meaning of the rest of the story. God invites us not only to celebrate the love gift involved in His son’s sacrificial death on the cross, but to show reciprocal love by becoming our brothers’ keepers (I John 4:21).
Those churches that exhibit the open door policy toward broken people have learned this lesson. Recently, after an evening worship service at Second Baptist Church in Lancaster, S.C., in which we praised this wonderful congregation for their open hearts to the broken who cry out for help, a lady seated with several in attendance who obviously delighted in their involvement in the motorcycle world, reflected, “When you praised our church, I almost swelled up with pride, because that is exactly why we chose to join this church. Here we feel welcome and loved, and a part of this faithful family. As you know, there are many churches in which this kind of love doesn’t exist.”
That church, with nearly a 1,000 present that Sunday morning, is fortunate to have a godly servant leader as pastor. His own humility was obvious, for this minister who possesses a doctorate, proudly displays his spirit in the nametag on his desk, which simply reads, “Pastor Jim.” He leads by his own passionate love for those who are broken.
At the lunch for potential mentors there was a varied group of people eagerly wishing to reach out to those struggling with drug addiction. There were those from every arena of life, ready to help the hurting in the new anti-drug mentor ministry, HIS Way, which we introduced to the church that day.
The next weekend we were in the snowy Reno, Nev., area with our close friend, Eddie Miller, director of missions for the Sierra Baptist Association, speaking in churches and sharing with representatives of churches in the association. There are so many lost and broken individuals in this northwestern area of the state, and the challenge is almost overwhelming. Many of the pastors and lay leaders have great empathy for those hurting and broken persons in this sinful region where gambling, prostitution and alcohol are respectable to many. Thank God for the faithful efforts of these missionaries for Christ in this area who hold high the banner of Christ. At least two of the churches already are active as encouragers to those with problems, and we pray that a HIS Way ministry in the local churches is just around the corner.
Recently we also were privileged to share the ministry with Pastor Tommy Teague’s congregation at North Richland Hills Baptist Church in Fort Worth. This godly pastor’s obvious rapport with a membership that was comfortable in reaching out to everyone in the area was obvious in the composition of those attending the three morning worship services. As we reminded these dedicated folks that “we who claim Jesus as our Savior represent Him here on this earth, and the broken have no other place to turn than to His disciples in the church,” a chorus of amen’s could be heard throughout the building as those who are passionate about serving Jesus loudly and unashamedly proclaimed their allegiance to Jesus. After all, only the Christian church is in the business of changing the hearts of men and women, and the lost and dying world aches for this needed transformation.
Ted Stone and Philip Barber are Southern Baptist ministers who provide leadership to churches and individuals seeking avenues of hope for those involved in drug abuse. For information about speaking engagements or about the anti-drug HIS Way program, contact Ted Stone, Ted Stone Ministries, P.O. Box 1397, Durham, N.C., 27702, or telephone 919-477-1581.