Pastor Top is bi-vocational pastor of Little Oak Baptist Church somewhere in a rural area.
Pastor Top was planning his preaching for the six weeks before Easter. He wanted this to be a challenging and reflecting time for his church. He felt very convicted that both he and the folks at Little Oak might have grown a bit complacent about the very people God wanted them to reach. He joked with other pastors about the casual attendance patterns of many people who considered themselves to be regular attenders. Some called them CME attenders: Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter. Despite his desire to have them come more often Top wondered if there was something both he and the folks at Little Oak could do to help the casual attender connect with God. The God connection was what they needed to transform their life.
Top thought about the sermon he would preach the week before Easter. He would us the passage on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Luke 19: 41 As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, 42 saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The Lord impressed on Top that the triumph folks needed in their lives today was peace, the peace that only Jesus could bring. The point of Palm Sunday was to present the entry of Christ to Jerusalem where people there saw a savior. They saw the everyday Jesus who identified with their hurts and frustrations in everyday life. That was the Jesus who saw their poverty and sat with them. The Jesus who touched them no matter how messy and dirty their lives were is the savior needed today. That same savior is the savior that both the casual attender and every Sunday attender needed to know personally.
Weeping compassion was what Jesus had for his people. Top paused and asked himself if he had wept over the people of his area? Little Oak was an open country church yet there were houses in around the church. Each time he drove to church he gave little thought to most of the houses. That was his first challenge. He needed to see homes instead of houses. Homes with people like he and his family inside. Homes filled with parents, teenagers and grade school kids who loved their family and needed a savior to walk with them through life. Top realized he drove by thinking about church not the people he drove by. The savior entered and saw lives as he entered the city not just buildings. Top needed to not only see lives but souls who the savior wanted to transform into his image.
Years ago when Top began to Pastor he would take an evening or two a month and visit the homes of people around the church he pastored. Life got busier as his kids got older and families changed. Perhaps he needed to make the time to stop by some of these homes and introduced himself to the people. That would be a start. Top had the sense that God told him to start praying for the people in the homes as he drove by. Pray God would touch them and then after a period of prayer go and visit them. Top knew from past experience with God that praying for people even when he didn’t know them would move him to compassion. He also felt God was leading him to ask a few folks to join him in praying. Two of the prayers were in the nursing home. They were alert and concerned about their church and area. They asked him each time he visited them what they could do for the church.