November 24, 2020
Dear Brother or Sister in Christ,
I’m inviting you to join me in praying for one very specific thing for our church this month. This past Sunday I preached from Acts 6:1-7. It’s a passage that addresses the problem of certain people in the church being overlooked. Not only is this disturbing to read about in the early church, but it is also disturbing to think about in our own church, E-Free Bemidji. Although we are certainly concerned that none of our widows be overlooked, the problem that we are currently facing in our own church is much broader than just our widows. It’s a concern we have for our entire church family.
Over the course of 2020, this COVID-19 virus has taken a toll on all of us in various ways. It has also taken a toll on our church family in terms of our congregational unity and caring for one another. Many people have been urging me to have the pastors do a better job at reaching out to every individual person in the church. I appreciate this biblical spurring on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). So please pray that each one of us pastors can be effective and energized to lovingly serve the needs of our church body during these unique and trying times.
As pastors, we are very much concerned with each and every sheep in our flock. Each one of us is steadily working hard for 50 hours a week or more. We are here to help and we count it a privilege to serve as your pastors. It is our job to watch over the flock. God’s Word instructs our pastors and elders to “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3) Please pray that we will live out this teaching in a way that honors God and meets the needs of His people.
All of this being said, and sincerely taken to heart, I want to call each and every brother and sister in Christ in our church family to join the elders and pastors in the ministry of caring for one another. As I was preparing last Sunday’s message from Acts 6, I very much resonated with how the twelve apostles must have been feeling: There are SO MANY ministry needs in the church and SO MANY people needing care and attention. How will we ever be able to meet all of these needs? There are only so many hours in a day, only so many days in a week. And now, these dear, precious widows, these godly women who had no other means of support were being overlooked. How awful! Certain people were going uncared for in the midst of a huge congregation of people. People who, each and every one, have a variety of ministry needs.
This is similar to our own church’s current need for more caregiving to a wide range of people in our church. As I mentioned Sunday, even though the early church was made up of believers who loved Jesus and who loved each other, and who were filled with the Holy Spirit, they were wrestling with the same kind of concerns that we have today. And let’s remember how they addressed this need: they asked for more help. They appealed to the church for more workers to step up and help share the load. And that’s what I’m asking you to pray for this month.
Pray that each one of us will agree to participate in a Church Directory Caregiving Drive. Rather than a drive to raise money, this is a drive to raise our level of caregiving in the church. If everyone who is reading this letter and praying for this need, could simply make time in the next week or two, to reach out to several people in our church family, our caregiving ministry could reach everyone. This would be an effective and comprehensive way to live out our care and concern for one another. This letter is being emailed to hundreds of households. This is a much bigger group of caregivers than just the 10 men who make up our Elder Board.
Here’s how it works: Each one of us will pray for the names of everyone who shares our page in the directory and then contact as many of those names as we feel comfortable with. For example, my wife and I are on page 9 of the directory that I have in front of me. We will try to contact every household on page 9. In our copy of the directory, there are 13 households listed. One of them is us. One of them is our daughter. One of them has moved away. One of them has recently passed away. That leaves us with 9 other households to contact. Please prayerfully consider reaching out in the same way to the names on your page of the directory.
If you need a copy of the updated directory, stop by the church or ask us to mail you one. We prefer not to send them out electronically via email in order to guard people’s confidential information.
If your name isn’t in the directory, find the page where it would be alphabetically and then reach out to the names on that page. And, if you want your name added to the directory, please contact the church and we’ll add you for future printings.
If you discover that someone else’s name isn’t in the directory, and you think that it should be, please try to find another way to contact that person and see how they’re doing and ask them if they want to be added to the directory.
If you or someone you know has been overlooked and are not feeling cared for, I apologize. I’m deeply sorry if we have not reached out to you, not cared for you, not loved you as we should. Please let me assure you, this is not intentional nor mean-spirited. We do care about each person. Our sincere desire is to be the kind of church where we “love one another deeply, from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)
If you are hurting or if you need some kind of help or encouragement, won’t you please reach out to someone in our church body and let us know? Please don’t wait for us to try and figure out who has been missing lately or who is struggling. Especially in this time of social distancing and livestreaming services, it’s exceedingly difficult to keep track of each other and to be aware of how everyone is doing.
Brother or sister in Christ, as we approach our 100-year anniversary in 2024, please join me in praying that we will grow into the body of believers that God would have us be. Please pray the words of Ephesians 4:15-16. Pray that “…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Together for Christ, Pastor Jerry