Welcome to #ATLT, At the Lord's Table: A Conversation, a series of over 50 posts from varying authors about the beautiful, mangled Church. Look for at least two new posts every Monday through Saturday between January 25th and February 22nd. Join us in the conversation? See you in the comments. Things were not going well. The meeting was breaking down to a chorus of bad news and disappointments. The heartbreak was palpable. Church members and attenders were trying to work through a tragedy that was not of their making. Confessions, accusations, assumptions, frustrations – all came together in a chorus of disappointment and concern. This church body was in jeopardy and the decisions it faced were critical to the future of its survival and witness.
Sometimes I am in too many meetings like this one.
Because of my role in the lives of more than 120+ churches I can find myself called in when conflict or confusion has reached such a crescendo level that the viability of a staff member’s ministry or a church’s sustainability is being questioned. While bearing no direct authority in directing the affairs of a congregational church, I have a relationship with them because of role or influence that allows me to help them through the maze of the present challenge they face as the Family of God.
Sometimes you hear things you would have rather not heard.
Like nails skating across a chalkboard come piercing comments better left unsaid. Words can take on their own life priming others to join in a similar stream of conversation that leaves little room for grace or mercy. Proverbs 26:2 says, “Like a fluttering sparrow a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.” For the moment these words harpoon the heart.
Church, where sometimes you hear things you’re glad to hear.
The meeting I was in shifted its focus to the good the church had done in the life of the membership and its community. Voices of affirmation resounded for the impact and value of the lives of individual members and the church body corporately. One voice in particular stood out. Her testimony was simple, “I was considered untouchable in this community and this church embraced me, became my family, welcomed me, and let me know I had found a home.”
Church, where the “Untouchable” are touched.
Time and again through the narrative of the gospels (Matt 14, Mark 3, Luke 6) records the untouchables of society thinking, “if I can just touch him (Jesus) I can be made whole.” Mark 5 tells us about a woman who spent 12 years looking for answers to a medical condition which precluded her being welcome to worship with others at the Temple only to find doctor bills that bankrupted her, disappointments that crushed her, and additional pain which hindered her who thought, “if only I can touch the hem of his garment I can be made whole”. She touched him, he touched her, and her life was forever changed.
Church, where the “Untouchables” gather whose lives have been changed forever.
When the time came for me to speak again to the congregation, I stood and asked the “Untouchable” a question. “What is your name?” She told me and speaking her name I expressed to her what the Bible says to all of us. All of us are untouchable to a holy God. All of us are but broken vessels of dishonor that are untouchable. Only by the grace of God through Jesus Christ are the “Untouchables” made whole and that it cost no more or less to make her life whole than it did mine at the age of six when I asked Jesus into my heart. The family of God is a family of untouchables made whole who are now new creations (2 Cor 5:17) in Christ Jesus. The untouchable becomes touchable because “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)
Church, where this “Untouchable” was touched by Jesus.
Roger Yancey relates to more than 120+ Southern Baptist Churches north of Houston as the Executive Director of the Tryon Evergreen Baptist Association. His passion is leadership development, church planting, and assisting churches in getting outside of the walls of the church building. He has been in Christian ministry for over 30 years serving in multiple capacities including church planting and pastoring local churches before coming to the TEBA in 2004. The most important thing about Roger is that he is God's child, Pauline's husband, and Preston's dad.