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hope for churches in stress


Thunderstorms, snowstorms, sandstorms, hurricanes, and tornados remind us that few places on earth are exempt from storms.

Neither are churches. While convulsions of nature affect churches at times, storms that erupt from within are much more devastating.

At such times, churches need an anchor.

Jesus, of course, is the ultimate anchor (Ephesians 5:25-27). However, he commonly gives his help through persons who consistently bring his truth, wisdom, and love to a local church.

In normal times, these mainstays in a church are typically seen interacting with people—greeting, listening, laughing, encouraging, and comforting. They make themselves available to do anything that needs to be done. They step in (and easily out) of leadership roles. They are supportive and constructive, never obstructive or reactionary. They quietly foster a healthy, supportive environment in the church (Acts 4.36-37; 11:22-24).

When storms erupt, these bulwark persons step up to preserve the church. Both in public and in private, they offer calm, wise, and purposeful perspective. They care enough, as needed, to speak the truth, directly and forthrightly, carefully and in love.

Especially when pastors or elders are the root of the problem, these linchpin persons may be misunderstood and maligned. In some instances, they can be unfairly disciplined by insecure leaders. At such times, these persons may pay a high price in estranged relationships and internal distress.

Yet time after time, churches are rescued and restored by one or a few foundational persons who hold a church true and steady. Like an anchor that prevents a boat from drifting or capsizing in wind or current, these persons make essential contributions to the health and resilience of a church.

The biblical role description of anchor persons is straightforward: "Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:9-12).


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