My church leaders aren’t ministering to the homeless people in our community and I think they should be …

Q: “I have become very upset with the pastors and elders at my church because they don’t see the urgency and the opportunity we have to be a church reaching street people who are increasing in number due to the economic downturn.  I spend almost every evening after work meeting people who are homeless and telling them the good news of Jesus and their need to repent and turn to him. I have seen a lot of fruit from my ministry of street evangelism and some of these people have come to church with me.  The pastors and elders haven’t done likewise, however, and they seem defensive when I confront them about their lack of zeal for the gospel.  I think I should look for another church that will take evangelism seriously. But, perhaps I should stay and try to bring enlightenment to these leaders. What do you think? Either way it seems like there will be conflict because I have been an officer in the church and am a very visible person.”

A: It is wonderful that God has apparently given you the gift of communicating the good news of Jesus to those in distress and living without the comfort of a home. That is a cause for rejoicing, however, you should also remember that God blesses His church with a wide variety of gifts, not all of which will exactly match yours (see Romans 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:27-31; and Eph. 4:11-13). Rather than judging and condemning your pastors and elders for not having your particular gifting you will encourage faithful use of their gifts by recognizing each of their unique contributions to the kingdom God is building and working with them to align your gifts with theirs.

First Corinthians chapter 12 tells us we are all a particular part of the body God is building as we are being built up into our head, the Lord Jesus. You are apparently in danger of “gift projection” as the passion you feel for your ministry clouds your vision of the passion others have for theirs. The church is composed of many people with different gifts and it needs them all to be complete. You should stay in your church seeking ways to gently build bridges with others that brings ministry alignment as new believers are discipled and folded into the life of the church. Even if things don’t happen as quickly as you would prefer you don’t have license to sacrifice the peace, purity, and unity of the church on the altar of your passion for street evangelism.

-Dave Edling

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About David V. Edling

Dave Edling is an experienced Christian conciliator who has worked with many conflicted churches. During his decade of service on the senior staff of Peacemaker Ministries, he participated in over 200 mediation and arbitration cases and worked with nearly twenty thousand Christians engaged in conflicts affecting churches of almost every denomination. Dave holds several graduate degrees in addition to his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University. They are: Master of Arts in Human Behavior, United States International University (now Alliant International University); Juris Doctor, California Western School of Law; Master of Arts in Religion, Westminster Seminary California; and Master of Arts in Biblical Conflict Resolution, Birmingham Theological Seminary. Dave has served as a trustee on the Board of Directors for Covenant College and Westminster Seminary California and has taught in the Doctor of Ministry programs for Reformed Theological Seminary, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, and Westminster Theological Seminary. In addition, Dave has been a lecturer in practical theology for several other Christian colleges and seminaries.
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