I’m burnt, I’m tired, and I’m almost ready to give up on my faith. But if nothing more than out of habit, I’m coming to your church tomorrow. Here’s how you can help me:
1. Realize that my love for God is still at the core of my life, but my anger toward how I’ve been treated is getting in the way.
2. Make sure you have something really meaningful to say that takes the gospel and the grace of God and gives me hope that there’s a future for me somewhere out there, even though things have not worked out in the past.
3. When you speak, speak with a broken heart, that you understand what it’s like to fail, what it’s like to be betrayed, what it’s like to be turned out.
4. If you’re the pastor, be accessible. By that I mean, be touchable. Be someone to whom I would dare reveal who I am and where I’ve come from.
5. Help me realize that what I’ve gone through is not something strange, that other people have gone through it and that I’m not messed up in a way that no one else is; that God does have a future for me even though my past experience in church has been anything but pleasurable.
6. Talk like you love what you’re doing. The last thing I need to hear is a pastor or staff member complaining about how bad they have it. I already feel that way. I need to see someone who’s found joy in their calling.
7. Don’t spout off a long stream of your successes, and how great God’s been to you without understanding that many of us don’t feel that way right now. Our emotions are over-ruling our hearts and our minds.
8. If you find out I’m there, don’t embarrass me, but reach out to me. Invite me for a cup of coffee and convince me that you’d like to hear my story and that you would listen without judgment or offering quick fixes, or “I told you so’s.”
9. I am in the valley of decision. Do I walk away from the ministry and my calling justifying it with “I can serve God just as well by having a real job?” So help remind me why I committed to the ministry in the first place.
10. Don’t talk around Jesus; talk about Jesus, who He is and how relevant to the present moment He is. Remind me that He loves me for me, not for what I do for Him.
I am a burnt out brother or sister and how I am received in your church could make all the difference in the world, if I make it or just become another statistic who washed out along the way!
It was Robert Kennedy who said, “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” For the glory of God and the good of mankind dare to fail greatly in a great cause.