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Faith

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people of praise

Unite with pastor to fill the pews

Brown

I believe we can all agree that our responsibility as children of God is to be the best we can possibly be in all regards, soulfully and spiritually. We are living in an age of apparent uncertainty and vulnerability, perhaps more so than ever before.

Of those most vulnerable are our priests, pastors and religious teachers. Just as Simon was called upon to help Christ carry his cross, so we are called upon to help our pastors carry theirs.

In our modern age of political and social correctness and tender sensibilities, all churches are experiencing declining attendance and active participation. While this remains our pastors’ ultimate responsibility, it is our responsibility as laypeople to act as did Simon. If for no other reason, the electric bill must be paid on behalf of all of us.

Indeed, the pressure is mounting on our pastors to please everybody, which we are all aware is a practical impossibility. To marginalize or minimize any aspect of scripture in order to placate the tender sensibilities of anyone is a most serious error.

We are likewise aware, or at least should be, that Christ was continually put under immense pressure to cave in to his critics’ demands that he be less harsh and demanding and to be more conciliatory to the whims of the people. Our pastors, devoted though they may be, are nonetheless human and in need of our counsel and support.

As a young boy I was warned repeatedly to steer clear of rattlesnakes, particularly when picking blackberries. Feeling that Dad, being an alarmist, meant well but was just overreacting, I naturally paid little attention.

Well, by the grace of God, I barely missed being bitten. I learned two valuable lessons: 1) Father knows best; and 2) listen and heed. I have continued to try to listen and want to remind all who likewise care to do so because Satan’s bite is far more deadly than a rattlesnake’s.

There is an ancient truism to which we must awaken and learn, “Those who fail to learn from the lessons of history are condemned to relive it.” We each have our own self-designed and self-controlled comfort zone which may be likened to an ostrich hiding its head when faced with danger. We know that Satan is out there somewhere just waiting to pounce at our slightest sign of weakness.

Satan is mean, ugly and devious, so much so that he irritates the tender sensibilities of many, including Christians. Therefore, many remain in their comfort zone so as not to have to face up to the harsh realities of Satan. In the interest of family and fellow Christians, we must stand strong.

Ask a friend and devout church member to join with you in inviting your pastor and other church members to discuss solutions to declining membership. Point out that declining membership is not just a single problem; consider the fact that all real success is predicated on God’s truth. Do not challenge or condemn the pastor regarding his judgment, lest you be beaten before you start. And finally, select a few relevant scriptural quotes that indicate your seriousness and that you have done your homework.

Remember that Rome was not built in a day and that God is just as appreciative of effort as he is in results.

Robert R. Brown is a member of God’s Catholic unisonal church and founder of Gideon’s Christian Warriors. If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, religious organization and a phone number where you can be reached. For more information, call 461-8304.

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