A Ministry of Presence
The writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 verse 25 says to the flock,"Do not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another all the more as you see the day approaching." I see the day approaching, I see evil on a scale that is rocking the very foundations of civilized behavior. I see Emile Durkheim's theory of the normalization of deviance playing out before my eyes. I also see people developing habits that put God at the bottom of the to do list. Perhaps harsh but hard to refute based on statistics. If it were different, if God were up on people’s lists, then there would be far more spiritual fruit visible in people’s lives.(Gal 5:22-23) There would be less domestic violence and heroin would not be the drug of choice for the great kid with huge potential that overdosed down the street. Sadly, these are common stories today in the heartland of America.
“In times like these we need a Savior” the hymn goes. So very true and we also need one another to stand strong against the evil days. We need the encouragement daily as we read in 1 Thessalonians to help us grow in faith and belief. Warren Wiersbe says there are a dozen scriptures telling us to " love one another". The list of "one anther' verses is almost 40. Clearly it is a call to unity, a call to circle the wagons against evil, and a call to watch out for each other. We need to look around us and see “ a great cloud of witnesses” not just clouds obscuring our vision. It is often called the “ Ministry of Presence”.
We seldom think that our absence affects anyone, but it surely does. When you are missed and you are, questions rise up in the minds of those who do attend and start to morph into fears. “What happened to so and so?” , “ “ is there a problem with so and so?”. The truth is that people may have business or travel going on. Or they may be having a conflict with someone, or with something said that has come a little too close for comfort.
We should seek them out. When people are away a while, we try to call. “Just checking on you, Things ok?” I also check my self to see if I have caused a problem personally which I need to make right. Paul says “ As far as it depends on you be at peace with all people”. Even those that you dont like or dont like you”? The simple answer is yes.
But when people don’t worship with the body for reasons of convenience or “didnt feel like it today”....the encouragement factor diminishes for the people and the Pastor. The average stay of pastors these days is somewhere between 2-4 years. The top cited reasons weren’t money or benefits, it was apathy and indifference to the efforts of the Pastor and leadership.
We all must evaluate our priorities and as I said before, if God were higher up on the “ to do “ list, our land would not be in such difficult times. In closing I offer this for your prayerful consideration. You all are valued, needed, and appreciated in the Body of Christ and God is honored when you bring Him your worship.