Saturday Sermon: The Untouchables
By the Rev. Montari Morrison
June 6, 2014 at 1:06 a.m.
Not long ago, a member of my church came to me to thank me for praying for her. I told her to continue to walk with God and to believe that He would sustain her. She nodded yes and walked away.
Later that day, she indicated that for the first time, she felt "the God" in me. The young wife and mother went on to say that she's always believed that I was a man of God, but today was the first time she felt it. Needless to say, I was crushed.
You mean to tell me after all the prayers, sermons, counseling sessions, hospital visits, eulogies, baptisms, christenings and Bible studies, you are just now getting this feeling?
Of course, no disrespect was intended, but through her honesty, some real truth manifested. I had become an "untouchable."
If to no one else, for sure to her. How did this happen? How could I be disconnected from the people I love so much? What do I do?
It's no secret that the church is having its hardest time ever connecting and staying connected to its congregants.
According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research, more than 40 percent of Americans say they go to church weekly. The real numbers indicate that only 20 percent actually attend service.
I'm led to believe that something in the church has gone wrong. I'm also led to believe that many of us church workers have become untouchable.
By that, I mean the common churchgoer wouldn't find us approachable. Yes, they listen to our sermons, allow us to baptize them, allow us to even counsel them - yet there is no connection.
Somewhere, we've lost the "such as I have" that Peter gave the crippled beggar on his way to church in Acts 3:6. They hear us, but do they feel God? We sing to them, but do they feel God? We give them information, but do they experience transformation? For if we would lead them into transformation by any means necessary, then they would definitely become more committed to an institution that has changed their lives.
The question becomes: When will we allow ourselves to be touched in order for this to happen? Can your personal church preferences be touched? If a person's needs don't fall into your office hours or days of worship, will you make exceptions? What if your order of worship is too confusing or ritualistic for the common man's taste; would you consider altering?
If I'm honest, there have been times when I've found myself in love with the institution of the church as opposed to the intent of the church. The intent of the church is to "go into all the world," Matthew 28:19. Whether it was a woman with uncontrollable bleeding or a blind man, Jesus was OK with being touched. So we must be willing to do the same.
In closing, a prominent pastor in Houston, Kirbyjon Caldwell, was asked what brought his church - Windsor Village United Methodist Church - from a membership of 25 to 7,100 in 25 years.
Pastor Caldwell indicated that, "it was about leaders of the church - both clergy and laity - deciding to redefine the congregation and meet the needs of the community," according to churchleaders.com, "Attendance in America."
The community is not here for the church; the church is here for the community.
Leaders, let us let the community touch us. The Hebrew writer tells us that the Lord has been touched already with all of our infirmities. Who are we to turn our noses up to others with like conditions?
Before I close this communication, I think it's important for me to disclose the person who opened my eyes at the beginning of this writing - it was my wife.
If you're looking for a place to start, try at home first. Let's do away with "The Untouchables." Blessings.
The Rev. Montari Morrison is the pastor of Greater Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.