Knowing just how far that is before giving them a break is another reason congregations need more hands-on pastoral care during these seasons.
4. Fill Them Up Before Emptying Them Out
Of the five marks of a healthy church, some fill us up, others empty us out.
Fill up with:
Empty out with:
Yes, Discipleship is on both lists. It’s the bridge that fills us up with knowledge and training, then it empties us out when we put it into practice.
A healthy church maintains an even balance of filling themselves up and emptying themselves out. But an unhealthy church tends to lean heavily, sometimes exclusively towards one list, neglecting the other.
Some churches are filling stations. They spend all their time inside the church walls, singing, having potlucks and the like. They may even get filled up with tons of Bible teaching, giving them a false sense of healthfulness.
Other churches are so obsessed with working that they burn people out with activities, without giving them adequate time to get re-filled.
But let’s face it, 90 percent of unhealthy churches aren’t dealing with the problem of giving too much. They’re stuck on the first list. Because of that, many pastors make the mistake of trying to fix their church by moving them off the fill-up list and getting them busy with outward-facing activities almost exclusively. This is very dangerous. (See point #2, above).
A church that is emptying themselves in ministry may think they’re healthy, because they’re busy. But, unless they’re also filling up with teaching, worship and fellowship, they’re as unhealthy as the church that keeps to themselves. We need to follow the example of Jesus who regularly pulled away from doing ministry to get re-filled.
A healthy human body needs to fill up through nutrition and empty out through exercise. So does a healthy church.
In the meantime, an unhealthy church may need a little more filling up before they have something to empty out.
Copyright © 2016 by the author or Christianity Today.
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