This morning, I attended a very special All Staff meeting at my church.
We received phenomenal leadership and encouragement about change from our pastor. It was a great time of worship, vision, learning, and community.
While Pastor Craig was sharing his heart, my mind began to come up with so many fresh, new ideas of change for my grief ministry, as my spirit absorbed the wisdom, passion, creativity, and vision God had planned for me.
I have a huge passion for those who hurt, those who feel rejected or displaced, those who deeply grieve, those who feel life can never be better, and those who have turned their back on God and the church. And I absolutely love that my pastor has a huge heart for these precious groups of people as well!
I’ve felt the sting of each of these situations through different seasons of my life, and none of them were a fun place to be. Because of personally experiencing these situations, God has been good to allow me to gain insight and understanding so I could know how to encourage and help in these areas…but today I wondered “is it enough?…am I doing enough?”
The answer, if I’m honest with myself, is no, not always.
So another question came to mind, “what can you change?…what needs to change?”
Every church cares. Most Christians truly care.
Every church wants people to feel as though they belong. Many Christians go out of their way to show love and acceptance.
Every church truly wants to minister to everyone. There are a lot of staff and Christians who spend many, many hours in ministry helping and equipping others.
Every church wants to make a huge difference. There are too many ministries to count that genuinely make incredible impacts.
So what are we missing? Also, who are we missing?
What changes can we all implement to be more loving, accepting, kind, and effective so we can minister, serve, and encourage to the best of our abilities to make the absolute greatest impact?
There are no perfect Christians, no perfect churches, no perfect ministries, no perfect staff, no perfect people, no perfect anything. Perfection is something we definitely pursue, but Christians fall short…all people fall short—regardless of their religious affiliation. Ministries fall short…just like workplaces fall short.
So how do we bridge the gap between the church and people who are hurting…people who are deeply grieving…people who have given up on—or even reject—God and the church…people who have never and won’t even consider stepping foot in a church…people who feel like life is hopeless?
I’m truly excited by what God showed me this morning and the ideas He gave me!
I look forward to ministering like never before, serving more vibrantly, boldly caring, and writing more in 2016.
As you read this, you may not share my enthusiasm. You may even have already thought of past hurts you’ve experienced.
If you fit into any of the above categories, I hope you’ll closely follow my blog and find encouragement. I am so very sorry if you have been wounded or offended by someone in the church…so very sorry if you’ve experienced deep grief…incredibly sorry if you ever felt as though life was hopeless or made to feel that your life was void of value…so sorry if an event happened that made you turn your back on God and the church. Truly, truly, genuinely sorry. If someone has not sincerely apologized to you personally, then I offer my deepest apologies as a part of the body of Christ!
God has great compassion and incredible love for you! You DO matter! Your life IS valuable! Your heartache, grief, and pain DOES count! God hears your heart’s pain and cries…and if anyone on earth failed to hear, understand, or realize your pain or grief (or failed to make it right), that is NOT okay with God…and I guarantee you it truly broke His heart.
This year, I want to vibrantly continue to help and encourage the grief community, and I also want to pour into people who have felt hurt and offended by anyone in the church.
I look forward to encouraging everyone in 2016…especially with the vision God gave me today!
Rolling up my sleeves to truly make a greater impact is my heart’s desire this year. If you are a part of any church, please join me in this endeavor. It is desperately needed!
If you know of anyone who has been through deep grief, anyone who is down in life, anyone who has been deeply hurt or offended by the church—whether by church staff or fellow believers, reach out to the offended and the hurting!
We need to never be so quick to be offended or put off by a person’s disbelief, mistrust or abrasiveness…instead, we ought to look into their hearts and seek to understand the reason behind why they’re hurt, offended, or bitter. There are a crop of people we need to seek to intentionally love back to life!
We, as the Church, constantly say and promote, “it’s okay not to be okay”…but then when people aren’t okay, or they later become not “okay,” do we as the whole church truly put our money where our mouths are and intentionally pursue the hurting and also genuinely care when others are hurt, offended, or leave?
Church is a family…ultimately one big family…who will ALL be living together in heaven some day. Is it not going to cause us shame when we see Christ and have to explain to Him how we treated some people as unvaluable or, worse, disposable?
Helping others and conflict resolution can be uncomfortable. It can be gritty and messy, for sure—definitely not all cotton candy, unicorns, sunshine and rainbows. It requires sacrifice and selflessness. People are worth it, though. So very worth it!
Isn’t this exactly what God did for each of us? I am forever grateful to those who loved me back to life and those who intentionally invested in me. Because they took the time to genuinely care for a broken, hurting, mess of a young lady years ago, my life was spectacularly changed! Now, all because of their love and concern, 200 million users on YouVersion have an opportunity to read the Grief Bites reading plans, and people in 110 countries receive grief encouragement weekly on my blog. None of this would’ve happened had certain people not seen me as someone valuable enough to care about. I had plans to be an atheist and reject God and the church…but I saw—and truly experienced—Christianity in the most pure, loving, amazing, kindest form. And it made all the difference in the world!
Who else in the world needs to experience the love of Christ? And what amazing spiritual gifts are hidden behind each hurting or hardened heart?
Sometimes, people have hearts that have had a lot of mud flung their way. Who is willing to accept the challenge to use their Christ-like love to water and nurture these hearts so their true heart can shine through?
People who have been through major grief, life challenges, or tough circumstances in life, they all have hidden treasure locked inside of them…each has their personal life story that can help others. What stories are not being shared due to not being nourished and nurtured? Like Pastor Rick Warren says, “Who better to help the grief community than someone who has been through grief? Or the atheist community than a former atheist? Or the addiction community than one who battled addiction?” There are a wealth of amazing people out there who are being lost in the shuffle and it’s up to the church to love, help and encourage them. If they were once plugged in and left a church…and no one cared…that falls on each of us.
Every person has great value and has the amazing ability to create lasting change inside and outside of their church. Ask God to use you and ask Him to show you where…and with who…He wants you to begin!
We have 11 1/2 more months of 2016 to see what God is capable of doing through this challenge. Let’s seek to obey Him with everything we’ve got!
Make the incredibly important decision to love the unlovely, encourage the hurting and grieving, and to go after the ones who have left or abandoned their faith so they know someone cares…so they know that God and the church truly does care.
I know this will be some of the best time we’ll spend this year in service and devotion to God!
Be His heart…be His hands…be His feet!
So who is up to this challenge?
I hope everybody!
Every single day, ask God to show you someone to encourage, and ask Him to bring to mind those who have left the church or who have abandoned their faith.
May God richly reward and bless you as you love people back to life and shine the brightest light possible for Him this year!
Gratitude and many blessings,
©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
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For more encouragement:
Best decision of your life: http://peacewithgod.net
Kim’s blog: http://www.griefbites.com
Connect on Facebook by “liking” page: http://www.facebook.com/GettingYourBreathBackAfterGrief
FREE YouVersion reading plans:
1. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays
2. Grief Bites: Finding Treasure In Hardships: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/912-grief-bites-finding-treasure-in-hardships
3. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
4. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
Getting Your Breath Back After Life Knocks It Out of You (Kim’s book): Click here for book