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Thread: Church as a Hospital

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    tWebber Thoughtful Monk's Avatar
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    Church as a Hospital

    The other day, I got a catalog from Christian Book Distributors. As I looked through it, I was struck that after Bibles, the most common genre of books were self-help devotionals. So many aimed at helping emotional hurts or just having a better attitude. Which got me thinking.

    Church has been described as a hospital for the wounded. Yet the treatments are always aimed at physical needs: illness, death, job loss, marriage issues, etc. As opposed to the past, there are now many organizations outside of the church that are there these physical needs. The church is no longer distinctive or ever better at ministering to these needs.

    I agree that there are times that ministry must be made to physical needs because in that person's life, the need is overwhelming everything else. As someone noted, its hard to get people to listen to the Gospel when they are hungry. And its good if a church is ready at these times.

    Yet a hospital is more than an ER center. So the church should be more than a spiritual ER center. The church must be ready to deal with spiritual illness and crisis even more than physical ones. Yet is the church ready?

    My experience is the if I walk into a church or have been a member for awhile with a spiritual need without an accompanying physical crisis, the church doesn't know what to do. You probably end up another person overwhelming the pastor's plate of activity. You might get referred to a para-church ministry. Yet I really have the sense you come to church with a life in reasonable physical good order but totally devastated on the inside spiritually, the church is going to be clueless on what to do.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    My time to be on TWeb is unpredictable. It may take a few days for me to see your post and respond.

  2. #2
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
    The other day, I got a catalog from Christian Book Distributors. As I looked through it, I was struck that after Bibles, the most common genre of books were self-help devotionals. So many aimed at helping emotional hurts or just having a better attitude. Which got me thinking.

    Church has been described as a hospital for the wounded. Yet the treatments are always aimed at physical needs: illness, death, job loss, marriage issues, etc. As opposed to the past, there are now many organizations outside of the church that are there these physical needs. The church is no longer distinctive or ever better at ministering to these needs.

    I agree that there are times that ministry must be made to physical needs because in that person's life, the need is overwhelming everything else. As someone noted, its hard to get people to listen to the Gospel when they are hungry. And its good if a church is ready at these times.

    Yet a hospital is more than an ER center. So the church should be more than a spiritual ER center. The church must be ready to deal with spiritual illness and crisis even more than physical ones. Yet is the church ready?

    My experience is the if I walk into a church or have been a member for awhile with a spiritual need without an accompanying physical crisis, the church doesn't know what to do. You probably end up another person overwhelming the pastor's plate of activity. You might get referred to a para-church ministry. Yet I really have the sense you come to church with a life in reasonable physical good order but totally devastated on the inside spiritually, the church is going to be clueless on what to do.
    That's the value of properly trained "small groups". The best way to get this started, in my opinion, is to have somebody who's really good at building small groups build a small group to train people how to do small groups.

    I think, too many times, "small groups" are started without any training or direction, and they just become a place for people to "pool ignorance".

    It's really hard for the Pastor or Church leadership to know who's hurting when the greetings are so "hey, how are you -- great, you?" in a short period of time.

    Properly utilized small groups give much more opportunity for people to get to know each other, and in the process of doing that, it's easier to "triage" needs.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    Cow poke, don't let any one say you are stupid, because you sure come up with good ideas! And, I've never experienced it personally, but I've heard that SOME churches will be judgmental about spiritual/ emotional/ psychological problems. Does that happen?
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christianbookworm View Post
    Cow poke, don't let any one say you are stupid,
    What is Rogue saying NOW?

    because you sure come up with good ideas!
    Most of them are stolen from others.

    And, I've never experienced it personally, but I've heard that SOME churches will be judgmental about spiritual/ emotional/ psychological problems. Does that happen?
    It's often been said that the Christian Army is the only Army that shoots its wounded. Meaning, of course, we CAN be downright detrimental to those who need the help the most.

    I was in a Church many years ago where I was the Youth Minister, and one of our teens had become pregnant out of wedlock. MUCH more egregious back in that day than it is today. Anyway, many people in the Church "shunned" her, and her parents made her keep attending. I could tell she was miserable.

    One day, I saw her in the hall by the drinking fountain, across from the nursery. I just knew she was contemplating what it would be like to have a baby, and she looked afraid, so I just walked up to her, didn't say a word, and I hugged her. She hugged me so hard it hurt, and she started sobbing.

    From that day, it became incredibly clear to me -- the ones who really really NEED the love of the Church are often the ones the Church rejects or looks down on or criticizes.

    So, yeah, Churches can be pretty "cold" when its members have problems. I try my best to offset that, and be a better example.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    I wonder how Jesus feels about that sort of behavior...
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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    tWebber Thoughtful Monk's Avatar
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    I understand the point of small groups. I agree with what you imply that small groups are formed without training and consequently are ineffective.

    I guess people can respond or learn how to respond in a physical crisis. Finding someone who really knows and can discern spiritual issues is hard. Its probably always been hard. Yet the church is first meant to heal people's relation to God and its usually the weakest area of the church's abilities - at least after a sinner's prayer is said.
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    My time to be on TWeb is unpredictable. It may take a few days for me to see your post and respond.

  7. #7
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christianbookworm View Post
    I wonder how Jesus feels about that sort of behavior...
    He was clearly "kinder" to the 'down-and-outters', and much more harsh to the "religious leaders".
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    tWebber Thoughtful Monk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    He was clearly "kinder" to the 'down-and-outters', and much more harsh to the "religious leaders".
    Amen
    "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

    My time to be on TWeb is unpredictable. It may take a few days for me to see your post and respond.

  9. #9
    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoughtful Monk View Post
    I understand the point of small groups. I agree with what you imply that small groups are formed without training and consequently are ineffective.

    I guess people can respond or learn how to respond in a physical crisis. Finding someone who really knows and can discern spiritual issues is hard. Its probably always been hard. Yet the church is first meant to heal people's relation to God and its usually the weakest area of the church's abilities - at least after a sinner's prayer is said.
    Hence, the challenge from Jesus (the "Great Commission") to "make disciples", and not so much emphasis on "converts".
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

  10. #10
    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    Sometimes you just need to be there for the person, right?
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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