I wrote this a couple of months ago, and left it in my drafts folder. When the Elder emailed me again, and again didn’t respond to me, I felt it was time to brush it off, and post it. If you are in a church and you do this to people – if this is church policy, to pray and not ACT to help those in need, then SHAME ON YOU! I’ve had more care and support from online ministers I’ve never met than from a church just three short miles from where I live. I am blessed that God has improved my situation and my health, because I have done everything I could to LISTEN to Him. However, a parishoner in need is a parishoner in need. So here’s what I wrote in full (and unexpurgated).
I’m going to have a little rant, do excuse me. This is what occured to me when I wondered at the complete lack of ANY pastoral care from my local church.
“I’m going to sit at home and pray for you. I have emailed you and asked you how you are, that’s enough isn’t it? I’m not going to do anything practical. I’m not going to do anything face to face or physical. I’m not going to even tell you that I am thinking of you – I’m not even going to reply to your reply to me. No, I’m going to apply the invisible sticking plaster of prayer. And I’m applying it to myself, because your pain, your illness, your need is just too f****** real for me, and I cannot bear the thought that I could, or might need to rock up and show myself as a fellow member of the body of Christ and DO SOMETHING for you. Something practical – that I might have to put out my hand, or put my hand in my pocket for you. You can’t pay your bills? I’ll PRAY FOR YOU.”
Now, I’m not saying that God doesn’t hear those prayers. I’m not saying that heaven and earth cannot be moved by prayer, because thankfully God has been working all this pain for my good, and things are better than they were, but you know God does expect us to DO something.
Let’s take a real-life example. If you’re on the way to the shops and you see a homeless person, do you walk past them and ignore them and think ‘I’ll pray for them.’ Or do you give them some change, and have a chat with them – find out their story? Do you stop on the way back from the shop with food for them (if you’re worried that money might be all spent on booze)?
If you would walk past and pray for that person then you are like the majority of the Body of Christ – applying invisible sticking plasters of prayer to those in need, in fact to your own discomfort when faced with their need. Because to communicate with a person in pain is just too, well, uncomfortable for you.
Let me rip that off you now *rips*
Good – now think about what you could practically do for the person in need who you know in your congregation, while you have the chance to reach them – before they leave, as I just have.
Churches have opportunities to reach those who are struggling, alone and vulnerable. If that person is strong enough they will hold on by their finger tips awaiting a little inclusion, a little support.
If that doesn’t come, they will leave.
I don’t think I need to express why – but I know many who are not Christians who know better how to care for those in need than those in the church do.
God Bless you