Posts Tagged ‘ministry’

marriage care

Posted: January 22, 2011 in Marriage
Tags: , , , ,

I will be honest.  I’ve been avoiding this topic.  I guess mainly because I don’t want anyone to think that I’ve got it figured out.  Maybe we can make this collaborative?

I am concerned and my concern is growing.  It seems I have more and more friends whose families are struggling – families that are involved in church, even in ministry.  As I drive around town, I see more and more churches with banners for Divorce Care.  Don’t get me wrong – I think that’s a great idea.  I think the church ought to be the place where hurting people can go to find acceptance, unconditional grace, and healing.

I guess I just want to see churches doing at least as much – probably more – for marriage care as they do for divorce care.  You know, the whole “ounce of prevention” thing?  I’m sorry, but the annual marriage weekend doesn’t add up to an “ounce of prevention” when it comes to marriage.

Why is the church struggling so much in this area?  I’m not a psychologist or a counselor and I didn’t even sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night.  But I do have a few ideas.

  1. I think it’s obvious that the family is a high priority target for our spiritual enemy.  What quicker way to distract a church – or even destroy a church – than to tear families apart, especially the families of those in leadership.  I have no problem saying that this is a spiritual battle.
  2. All too often, church is a place where we feel like we have to hide our problems and put up a false front.  Nobody is perfect, but for some reason, there is pressure to act like you are.  I heard a speaker recently say that “if the penalty for disclosure is the same as the penalty for getting caught, I will hide until you catch me.”  That’s kind of how it works in church.  The result is that we have no “small” problems in church, only “big” ones.  We don’t hear about the kid struggling with depression, until he takes his own life.  We don’t hear about the girl experimenting with drugs, until she’s an addict.  We don’t hear about the couple struggling to communicate, until they separate.  We’ve got to be able to admit that we’re struggling and ask for help before our problem or weakness takes us over the edge.  And I think it has to start at the top.
  3. Church has become a place where we mind our own business.  It’s not cool to get involved in someone else’s problems.  We’re into the “one another” passages when it comes to loving and serving and encouraging.  But as a church, we’re also instructed to admonish one another, confess our sins to one another and be accountable to one another.  Jesus even gave us instructions to do this correctly.  This can only happen where there is commitment.  When people get “offended” at church, they usually just move to another one. But if I know that I am loved and accepted and that my friends want what is best for me, no matter how badly I screw up, then I can allow others to speak into my life.  That’s dangerous, but it’s the kind of church I want.

So, let’s collaborate.  What will it take to become that kind of church?  What have you tried that worked?  What are your big ideas? Let’s hear it!


Like a lot of you, I’ve been mesmerized by the story of Ted Williams, the “homeless man with the golden voice” who became an internet sensation this week. Just in case you are relying on as your sole source of news, here’s the story…

For the first part of the week, I was motivated by one thought: “this is why we do what we do; you just never know.”  You never know who you might find on the street.  I’ve met guys with masters degrees and guys with law degrees.  Some have made mistakes that landed them on the streets and some have just been the victim of life’s twists and turns.  The next guy you help might have the potential to be a great leader, or actor, or musician, so we’ve got to keep working.

Towards the end of the week, I became consumed with another thought:  “what about all the ‘worthless-bums’ out there?”  Let’s face it.  We are moved by the story of Ted Williams because he has a “special gift” – he has the capacity to entertain us.  What about the homeless man who would be a great truck driver or the woman who would make a great nurse?  But really, what about the homeless who have no redeeming quality at all?  Are they any less deserving of our compassion?  Comedian Andy Borowitz tweeted this week: “Here’s my idea of a heartwarming story: a homeless man with no special talent gets our compassion anyway.”  Well said.

It’s human nature to judge – to place a value on the life of an individual.  It’s almost exclusively based on outward things.   The danger is that we do the same thing with God.  We use the same kind of scale to determine our own value to him.  We conclude that He should care for us because we have some redeeming quality.  The reality is that, before God, we’re all “worthless bums.”  Scripture teaches that, because of sin,  even the very best we have to offer is like “filthy rags” before the Holy Creator of the universe.

The good news is that, though He is holy and just, he is also gracious and compassionate.  The Apostle Paul wrote that when we were “utterly hopeless, Christ came.” THAT is where my worth lies. That is why I, Ted Williams and all the other bums are so valuable.

Interesting note: I started this post this morning before church and I’m finishing it in the afternoon. One of the songs we sang was Mighty to Save.  The first line starts, “Everyone needs compassion.” Check it out:

Coming to terms with a biblical view of worth changes everything.  It changes how we feel about ourselves, which in turn will affect every relationship in our lives.   It should also affect our capacity for compassion.  So I guess the title of this post is redundant.  Grace is, by definition, unconditional.  After all, aren’t we all “worthless bums”?