I am a battered, wounded sheep who has forgiven all the hurts and sins committed against me and has sought forgiveness from those that I've hurt, yet I'm not moving forward as everybody else in my congregation is. People assume that I am still "caught up" in issues from the past -- but this is not necessarily the case. I don't want to lag behind, but I am... We had a congregational meeting where it was explicitly stated, "Let's move on." I guess I felt like I had to drop whatever feelings I had and just move on... In my congregation we certainly have done a lot of great things over the last couple of years (workshop on grace, professional counselor on forgiveness, visiting preachers, public apologies, etc), yet now the emphasis is on evangelism... I feel as though the church is committed to move forward, and those who are not with it will be left behind. -- A.G.

Everyone processes and moves forward at different rates, regardless of what is said publicly. I doubt that everyone is moving forward, in formation, while you alone are struggling to keep up. Is there no other member or church leader you have talked with who agrees that we can all go in the same direction without necessarily moving at the same pace? I think there must be.

A.G. replies: You are the first person to put it in those terms. Truthfully, no one has said that directly or indirectly. That's the first time I've heard such a perspective -- which is encouraging to hear and makes a lot of sense.

A couple more thoughts, sister: Becoming outward-focused does follow a period of honest reflection and self-questioning; that is healthy. Of course, it is only natural that we clean up our own house before inviting the neighbors over! Galatians 6:10 says we should help the insiders as a matter of priority before the outsiders. Not that we choose between fellowship and evangelism; both are vital!

If most people in your congregation are processing things well, then there will be an increasing desire to spread the good news. Evangelism will build. As someone said, "The Spirit of Christ always insists on making Christ known." It is only a matter of time. I pray that this is the direction your local church will continue to move in.

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