Help members move to a new church

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Transitions are tough. We are sending our second daughter to college this week, our son to her senior year of high school, and our youngest daughter to a new school. There’s a lot of change happening here. And there’s also a lot of stress around all the unknowns like new relationships and groups of friends. Helping our children make healthy transitions is essential to our role as parents.

Likewise, as pastors, pastors’ wives, and ministry leaders, we have a responsibility to help our members as they transition into a new community. But it’s rarely a streamlined process.

For members who are deeply invested in the life of their local authority, the transition is painful as the roots are deep and the ties that unite them are strong. Some may need extra care to transfer their commitments to a new church family. They may be tempted to simply stay connected to their old church family, continuing to depend and lean on us in a way that prohibits them from investing in a new body.

How can we help these brothers and sisters transition into a new family of Christ?

1. Cherish the beauty of God’s purpose.

A local church is a gathered body of believers where the Word is preached and where the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are practiced. It is the family we belong to where we all live “one another” that we read about in scripture (e.g., Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Gal. 5–6; Eph. 4–5; Col. 3; 1 Thess. 5; Heb. 3; 10; James 5; 1 Peter 4-5). This is how we encourage one another daily and even more so as we see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:25). God’s purpose for his church is life-on-life, face-to-face ministry.

God’s purpose for his church is life-on-life, face-to-face ministry.

Much spiritual good can be had through the internet and social media, books and webinars. We can also bless absent members on FaceTime or Zoom Bible studies, but nothing replaces God’s structure of living together as believers in local churches.

Our job as ministry leaders is to help brothers and sisters see God’s plan for His church as they make difficult transitions. Teaching the importance of the local church should begin at the doorstep of our membership classes. This should be reinforced in our church covenants, such as in my local church where we promise, “If we leave this church, we will join another church preaching the gospel as soon as possible where we can practice the spirit of this covenant and the principles of the Word of God. That way, when they head out the back door, they have been biblically catechized into their responsibility as Christians.

2. Challenge them to commit.

Building new relationships is physically and mentally exhausting. When members leaving a local organization find it difficult to connect with a new congregation, they may be tempted to return to old relationships. The problem is that virtual connections don’t offer the kind of interactions needed to grow spiritually.

Addressing the local churches in Rome, Paul wrote of his desire to “see” them (Rom. 1:11). In 1 Thessalonians 3:10 he notes his desire to “see [them] face to face and make up for what is missing [their] Faith.” We might see each other on a digital screen, but Paul had in-person interaction in mind here. No matter how good the digital world is, there is simply no substitute for physical relationships. bone.

My dear friend lives miles away. We use various social media and communication apps to keep in touch, but there’s nothing like when she gets off a plane and I can just sit with her in person and talk (usually for hours). Digital platforms are great, but they pale in comparison to being in his presence.

It is through human interactions that we truly get to know and grow with each other. Paul urges the Philippians to imitate him (Phil. 3:17). How can you completely impersonate someone if you’re never with them? For a young mother, nothing can replace sitting in the kitchen with a mother of teenagers and watching how she interacts and functions as a Christian in that environment. You can read a book on teen parenting or watch a reel on Instagram, but I assure you, it won’t help you imitate in nearly the same way. In-person relationships take time and sacrifice, but they are so worth it to our souls. Sake.

3. Check your temptation to play God.

Ministry leaders have a caring streak that can lend itself to “playing God.” We might believe the lie that if we don’t keep zooming in or praying with absent members on the phone, they will suffer and we might lose them. Or if we push them too hard towards another church, they may become disillusioned and it will be our fault.

How can you completely impersonate someone if you’re never with them?

But in 1 Peter 5:2, Peter admonishes the elders of this local church: “Shepherd the flock of God among you, keeping an eye on it. Peter intends for the elders to watch over those entrusted to this local body. The image is of a shepherd with his hand on his forehead watching over the flock. How can he exercise surveillance without being among them?

The best way to love absent members is to ensure they are present in another body, while recognizing that God is the ultimate shepherd who knows each of his sheep, and they cannot be lost from his grasp. .

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