Each Sunday at Avalon Church I stand before 500 adults gathered for worship and either welcome them, share a selection from the Bible and pray for an awareness of the Lord’s presence and power in that place; or close the service with some reflections and a prayer asking the Lord to saturate their lives as they leave the building. It is not unusual in those moments for me to pray with my eyes open, silently asking the Holy Spirit to minister with His unique insight to the unspoken needs and hidden hurts of the people I see in front of me as I scan the room.
Then on Monday I meet with individuals – some from the crowd I saw the day before, others from different places but just like those at Avalon Church. My experience during the week is why I pray the way I do on Sundays – because I perceive that my “sampling” of people Monday through Friday is actually pretty indicative of a what is occurring in the lives of a good portion of folks gathered in my church, or any church, each weekend.
Interestingly, I will probably never get an opportunity to speak or minister with the majority of hurting people in my own church – quite simply because they will not share with me. There are many reasons for this: some think I am too busy; others believe pastors in general are too holy to talk to; there is a percentage of people who think I am “scary”; and there is that little group that just will not ever talk with an avid Georgia fan (Go Dawgs!).
So why am I telling you this? Because YOU may be the one the Lord uses to minister truth to some of these folks and I want to give you a heads up what they may be looking and longing for. Someone around you at church this weekend wants:
To be seen, not just looked at. People who come for ministry often find healing in the reality that I don’t care what they look like – they can be really beautiful or not so much; thin or very overweight – it does not matter when you are primarily looking in their eyes to see the person inside.
To be heard, not just listened to. The ability to recite the words a person just said is simply a matter of memory; to know, understand and appreciate their meaning is of greater value.
To be hugged, not groped. Every married woman can tell you that there is a difference here, even in regards to her own husband. Everyone longs for a safe embrace.
To be valued, not vilified. It is way too easy to be judgmental or unforgiving. We have all sinned and continue to sin. No one knows this better than Jesus – who incredibly forgives us and values us in spite of our sin. Who are we to do any differently.
May you and I be available to be used of God to minister truth today to those around us.