Is it possible to be lost in the midst of an active church? In the life of
an active, evangelistic and growing church, can peopleeven leadersbe lost? The
answer is, Yes! But lets define lost and see what we can do in our church to
avoid such a condition.
First, by lost we mean unsaved. Our approach to evangelism may
contribute to this. We may give assurance of salvation to individuals when, in
fact, it is the Holy Spirit alone Who does this. When He does, the evidence of
His presence and the presence of the Living Christ will be obvious to all. His
Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are Children of God (Romans
8:13-17). Because the eternal destiny of each person is at stake, we must learn
to take this very seriously.
As a pastor, I knew I would be accountable to God for every member
under my watchcare as a shepherd!
Another concern is that of our children who have grown up in a Christian
home and in the church. They can give all the right and expected answers
without a real and personal and saving relationship with Jesus Christ. They may
be baptized, faithful and activebut still lost.
Every parent must take the eternal welfare of their children very seriously.
Talk with them. Watch for the evidence that they are walking in the Spirit.
Watch their conversations. Take seriously their choices, whether
Christ-honoring or worldly and self-serving. Watch who they choose as friends.
Open your home to their friends, and participate with them, always listening
for signs of their clear relationship with Christ as described in 1 John. Read
these verses carefully to see what God says are the indicators of a person who
is saved. This is eternally serious!
Finally, since the term lost can refer to those in the church who are just
there but not growing in the Lord nor even giving evidence that they know the
Lord in an intimate and vital way, how do our churches help move such
individuals into a proper relationship with Christ?
Having been a pastor for more than 30 years myself, I knew, like the apostle
Paul, that I would be accountable to God for every one of them under my
watchcare as a shepherd! Like Paul, I wanted to be able to say, I am
innocent of the blood of all men (Acts 20:26). Paul, no dou bt, remembered
Gods warning to Ezekiel: so you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for
the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from my mouth and warn
them for me [and] if you do not speak to warn[their] blood I will require at
your hand (Ezekiel 33:7-8).
Therefore, I did several things with our church family:
I taught from scripture to every Sunday school teacher that they were to be
good stewards of every class member, aware of whether each and every member was
both saved and growing in the Lord.
I instructed every committee chairperson that his or her first
responsibility was to ensure that every member of the committee was saved and
I taught every deacon to, likewise, ensure that every person under his
spiritual watchcare was saved and showing evidence of spiritual growth.
Every staff member was to know each church member as intimately as possible,
for Gods instruction to Ezekiel was for them as well.
I constantly alerted and taught the entire congregation how to give real
spiritual watchcare over their fellow believers, for the eternal welfare of us
all was at stake. They listened and did this for each other. Apart from those
who moved away from the city, we did not lose one member. God was gracious to
both teach us and enable us to obey Him; hence, ensuring that none were
In this day, when the culture around us is deeply affecting how we relate to
one another, its so important that we teach and train the members of our
churches to give spiritual watchcare over each other, including those who are
just attending. This affects, and may very well determine, the eternal destiny
of every member.
The author of Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby is president of
Henry Blackaby Ministries. Visit www.henryblackaby.com for more information. Bible
references are from The New King James Version.
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