Every pastor has former church members and former workers. It has been said that the average life of a church worker is seven years. That may be the average, but I am sure it is not God’s intended norm. Here are a few simple thoughts to help people be faithful in the work of God over a long period of time.
1. Be Attentive
The Bible says in Proverbs 27:23, “Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds.” Is someone missing church services? Are they not showing up for soulwinning like they used to? Do they seem to be discouraged? Is there a burden in their life they are struggling with? I’ve been amazed how attentive Pastor Paul Chappell is to the members of Lancaster Baptist Church. With all that he has to do—pastoring a large congregation, overseeing a Christian college, Christian school, and a thriving publishing ministry, and traveling around the world for the cause of Christ—he nonetheless has his finger on the pulse of his church and is aware of the spiritual temperature of its members.
2. Be Available
Call the people who are hurting. Ask them how they’re doing. Encourage them. Be a blessing to them. Offer to spend some time in fellowship with them.
3. Be Affectionate
Note that the Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonians, “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7). He said he would have given them his own soul because “ye were dear unto us” (v. 8). Remember that he told the Philippians, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3–5).
Elmer Towns once visited First Baptist Church of Hammond in preparation for writing the book World’s Largest Sunday School. During a service, Dr. Hyles “got on” one of the ushers for some infraction (if I recall the story correctly, the usher had allowed people to come into the service at a time when the doors were to have been kept closed). After the service, Elmer Towns went to that usher and said, “Well, when are you leaving the church?”
“What are you talking about?” the usher asked.
“Well, I heard how the preacher spoke to you. He dressed you down in public.” The usher became intense and pointed his finger in Elmer Towns’ face as he said, “Mister, I don’t know who you are, but I want you to understand, when a man loves me like that man loves me, he can say anything he wants about me in the church service.”
4. Advocate for Them in Prayer
A preacher friend of mine once had a key member who was going through an intense spiritual battle. My friend testified that he got on his knees and prayed for approximately four hours for the life, the family, and the future of that man. It was a time of vigorous spiritual warfare. He was so exhausted by the end of his prayer that he went to bed and slept for twelve hours. That man not only stayed faithful in that church, but went on to serve God in full-time Christian ministry as an evangelist.