What is your advice regarding disciples who used to be leading or on staff, disagreed with the way things were being done and spoke up — but felt no one listened to them? They are still active in the church, but I think they are shocked by past hurts and are struggling to build their relationship with God. As the evangelist of our church I have tried to listen, but they always say the same things. I know they could be a great help in the church, but they seem to be paralyzed by work, family commitments and life. The church meetings are not really helping them because most of our members are new disciples and the subjects are geared to them. These brothers want to spend time with me on a weekly basis for help, yet honestly I don’t know where to start. –A church leader (somewhere in Asia)
I appreciate your heart to help these brothers, and I know there are many like them in most congregations where I visit. As I see it, they need three things: to be heard, to be fed and to be used. These people are a great resource! It is sad to see so many ex-leaders "on the sidelines," struggling to make sense of hurts and disappointments and feeling less and less connected to their brothers and sisters.
Again (1) they need to be acknowledged. They aren’t crazy, they don’t have bad hearts — after all they’re still coming to church right? — and their motives are good. Feeling you understand their feelings are valid will go a long way. (2) They need feeding. Use what you are learning in your own study. Make sure they are receiving fresh material and if possible being exposed to new Christian books, audio lessons, DVDs etc. Make sure your teaching touches both head and heart. When churches and individuals drift spiritually they can easily get involved in "civilian affairs" and even a lot of sin. (3) Plug them in. Use their gifts. Seek their advice. Be humble with them, not threatened or intimidated by them. Only when all members of a church family are plugged in and using their gifts can the church be all it can be for Christ.