2017 has been a year, I mean it has been one for the books it seems. The election, the tweets, North Korea, the eclipse, the floods, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the supposed end of the world, and then the moving of the supposed end of the world, the shootings.
It may feel like talking about anything except the issues at hand is futile. But your congregation is looking for normalcy too. Your Harvest party still has to be planned and Christmas is still just around the corner.
It’s important to engage people with both the compassion and empathy that they need in times of tragedy but to also always help them move forward. We never want to be so calloused that we don’t allow our communities the time they need to process, but we also don’t want to linger on the bad, most people are looking for the good. They come to our churches to be filled with hope and life; so that their children will learn to love their neighbors and to celebrate the good that is still in the world.
In times of corporate sadness, people are looking for people to lead them out of the season that they are currently in. Churches are often uniquely positioned to be able to do just this. So, if you find your churches filled with people this weekend that are trying to make sense of the chaos in the world, lead them, but lead them well.
three ways to lead people in a broken world
one. lead with hope
It is the responsibility of ministry leaders everywhere to lead with hope.
People want to know their life matters
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
People want to know that death is not the end
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”…But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
People want to know there is hope.
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
two. lead with an open mind
There is a certain mystery about God that is so encouraging. He judges the heart when we judge people’s actions. He unexpectedly gives grace when we want to give the Law. The Bible clearly says His ways are not our ways and this is why leading with an open mind is really important. People, in general, are quite confined by the boxes and systems that they live in, but God is above all that.
This means that reaching people will take ingenuity and creativity. Problem solving in the future will require methods we haven’t used in the past. Even connecting with people who haven’t given their lives to Christ should be approached with the same openness that Jesus used to reach people.
[Tweet “Call for forgiveness and reconciliation and love people that seem unlovable. “]
three. lead with love
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
We are commanded to be known for our love, but sadly more often than not, this is not the case. We are collectively known for our intolerance, our judgy-ness, our cliques and our “holier than thou attitudes.”
People want their leaders to lead with love. Love em’ or hate em’ there is a reason that mega churches are huge. Regardless of what you think about their theology, pastors like Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, or Chris Hodges are mostly known for being positive, loving, creative leaders.
The shootings are not going to stop, the racism is not going to end, the politics are not going to die down unless churches lead the way in love. It’s the responsibility of pastors and ministry leaders everywhere to challenge their congregants to practice the greatest two commandments each and every day of our lives. The way to solve these problems is by doing the opposite of the media and our government; calling for forgiveness and reconciliation and loving people that are unlovable.