It was the first day off for me in several weeks. The “honey-do” list was a mile long so I made my way to Lowe’s to get all that I needed for the day. As I walked down one aisle came across someone I had not seen in years. We greeted each other and I began a conversation with him just like we all do, “how’s it going?” I was not ready for the response!
He startled me by saying, “life stinks!” and he was serious. I’m glad I was paying attention or I may have said “good”. I asked what was happening and he began to tell me everything that had gone wrong in his life. He told about his marriage ending, his health failing, his children turning out all wrong, losing his job and much more. I tried to minister to him and remind him that God still loves him. He then gave me another shock when he said, “I’ve given up on God!”
This was coming from a guy that had been very active in church and Sunday School. (Please remember I had not seen him in years) He had been a leader in the youth ministry and served as an usher at the church. But now he is saying he has given up on God. I blurted out, “Man, what has happened to make you give up on God?”
The first sign of trouble was his marriage. He and his wife began to have problems and became irregular in their church attendance. They dropped out of Sunday School and, in his words, “no one called, sent a card or came by our house”. When their problems went public and divorce was final, “no one called or even said to me that we are praying for you.” When other problems began to happen no one showed care and in his words, “no one cared for me.” He said to me, “I found better friends at the bars than at church and that’s why I gave up on God.”
It was not God that failed but rather His representatives. As we finished up our conversation, he did allow me to pray for him so right there in the aisle of the Lowe’s I prayed for him. He hugged me and said, “Thanks, it has been years since I’ve heard my name in a prayer.” We said goodbyes and I went back to my truck and cried over my failure and all of our failures to represent God’s love.
What could have changed the situation I just described? I don’t know if anything could have helped to change the direction of his life but I do know that we (all of us) failed to reach out in a time of need. He was in Sunday School class. He was a member of a Sunday School class with an organizational chart on the wall informing everyone who were the care group leaders of the class. Everything on the surface looked good but the problem was that the care group leaders may have had the job but they were not doing their job!
How do we get the care group leaders to work? How can we make sure that this does not happen again? How can we make sure that ministry is taking place? The good news is that there is a way to improve the ministry of care groups but the bad news is that there is no perfect system. We are sinful creatures and we are selfish by nature and we will always have leaders volunteer or enlisted for being a care group leader and fail at the task. We can train and provide resources and still have someone say, “Your church does not care for people!” because a care group leader failed to minister. The truth is that we must do our best and leave the results to God.
There is a system that can help your care group leaders but you must remember to keep any system you use EASY and SIMPLE! Do not make it too complicated. Below you will see a form that every care group leader needs to turn in every week or at least every month. When the form is given to the care group leader, the names should be already filled in. If you leave it blank, they will only write in those that they contact not all the members of their care group. If the care group leader does not turn in the report at the determined time, then you contact the care group leader.
Train the care group leaders to use the script at the bottom of the page. The key is that we are calling to find out how we can pray for them. Every member should be contacted every week or at least every month and asked, “How can I pray for you?” When the care group leaders discover a ministry opportunity then the class should respond.
This approach may have not been able to change anything for my friend but at least he would have known that he was cared for and that God loves him.
|SUNDAY SCHOOL CARE & PRAYER MINISTRY|
|SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASS:|
|CARE GROUP/PRAYER LEADER:|
|DATE ASSIGNED:||DATE RETURNED:|
|NAME||PHONE NUMBER||CONTACTED Y/N|
| “What do I say when I make the phone call?”
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as the Specialist of the
Dr. Tim S. Smith serves as the Specialist of the Sunday School and Open Group Ministries of the Georgia Baptist Convention. Visit their website at ssog.gabaptist.org for more information and other resources to aid your Sunday School.