When members go missing

I have watched dear friends limp away from my church “team” and have realized that my life and the body life of my church would never be quite the same. Yet no one—myself included—has gone after them. I sometimes wonder if we throw the term “church family” around a bit too loosely, because surely most of us would pursue and attempt to heal wounded members of our genetic family who wandered away.

When wounded Christians leave the church, we lose the value of their experience, skills, and wisdom. How much depth have we, the collective church, lost by not aggressively seeking to find and heal our wounded lambs?

…It is my prayer that as Christians we will come to the conviction that we must never abandon members of the flock. We are to pursue those who have been hurt or who have made bad decisions, and we have a responsibility to restore them to health, not compound their injuries. We have a call to seek those wandering lambs with the overwhelming love of Jesus.
~ Excerpted from Bring ’Em Back Alive by Dave Burchett

I personally know of one family that had attended a church for 12+ years and went missing for six months before anyone noticed and bothered to check on them. While I am not in favor of folks going missing on purpose to see if they’ll be missed (yes, it happens), I do think that how a church follows up on its own says a lot about their love for God and others.

Don’t assume that others are following up on someone who’s gone AWOL. Take the time to check on them yourself. Better to have multiple people making contact than no one at all!




Filed under involvement with the church, Loving God, Loving others

6 responses to “When members go missing

  1. Suzanne

    Rick, I believe that is one of the biggest failings of the Church today, not caring enough about those that are missing to give them a call or a personal visit to find out why.

  2. That requires people to be involved in the lives of others, which requires honesty and transparency.
    You’re right though. How different would the church be, and our communities around us, if we took this attitude to heart and practice?

  3. After being a faithful church attender since early childhood, and a pastor for a 12 years, my wife and I “limped away” about 18 months ago. Our Bible study group has become our church. It has led us to read Acts, Peter’s epistles and explore what church “means”. One (among many) conclusion that we have come to is that church is too institutional rather than organic. Programmes are more important than people. Our age is desperate for relationship and too many churches are failing at that point. Thanks for the post. You reminded me that I still enjoy the ride that Jesus is taking me on!

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