Stories & Commentaries

The Broken Church

If your church is not ministering to the broken, you are in a broken church.

stock photo two women praying in church

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If your church is not ministering to the broken, you are in a broken church.

Is that too strident? I don’t think so. In every pew sits a broken heart. Even those who look good and smell good. Even those who answer all the questions correctly and can sing the morning hymn without even looking at the hymnal. The enemy is clever and tenacious. And all of us come to worship fresh from the battlefield. All of us.

And then there are those who do not come at all because they feel the sting of defeat. The way seems long and weary and their bleeding feet are sore. Sometimes church makes them feel even more judged and guilty. Why bother? To sit, unmoved, and listen to a listless lecture that makes their personal to-do list even more onerous … who needs it?

Ruthie and I were in a little chapel at a conference center not long ago. We were scheduled to speak there later in the day so beforehand we were scoping out the space. As we were leaving we saw a small poster at the back that said, “If you did not find what you came for today please speak to someone so we can pray with you.” I thought, Now they get it! They understand the battle is real and victories are gained only with spiritual weapons.

I remember thinking, Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that message was on the wall or maybe in the bulletin in every one of our churches! Every week.

When the people in your community think of your church, it would be marvelous if they thought, I’m going to go there today because I know I’ll find hope. And courage. I know they care about me; I know someone will pray for me … It’s been a rough week and I need that right now.

What if, after the closing song, instead of just being dismissed by the deacons and silently sauntering out of the church, everyone was invited to turn and speak to someone they hadn’t come with and ask simply, “How can I pray for you today?”

I know, not everyone is going to feel comfortable with that, but I think most will, and some may even acknowledge, “No one has ever asked me that question before. I really felt like I was ministered to here today.”

Broken people ministering to broken people. Good definition of church.

— This commentary appeared in the Oct. 6, 2019, Hope Heals e-newsletter, part of the North American Division's Prayer Ministries. Click here to learn/read more.