20. Backslidden Christians
Recently, Brother Dan Ondra, who is working with me in FIG Ministries came up with a thought that I thought was very interesting. He suggested that most churches have many people who have one time, or another fallen and have never been helped back up. He said, “Most churches have more inactive members than active members. Many of these ‘fallen’ members face the same obstacles as fallen leaders and need similar restoration.” He suggested that we organize to help restore these people. Brother Ondra said, “When I asked for a list of inactive members to visit while I was at a large church for a week of meetings, it struck a nerve at the heart of the pastor’s mission… to restore the fallen in his own church membership. Though it was hard work knocking on doors all week during a meeting, the results were unforgettable. The key was, I met with the pastor early each morning, to pray for his own fallen, inactive members by name! I then visited them during the day, to help them overcome issues keeping them from restoration into the active membership.”
It has made me do a lot of serious thinking. If 1,000 churches had 100 people on an average who have fallen away from the Lord, we could potentially reach 100,000 people for Christ. These would not be new converts, yet in some ways they would be. When Peter fell, Jesus prepared him by saying, “When thou art converted.” Sometimes, after a fall, someone is converted to become a better Christian than they ever were before. Imagine if that happened in these people’s lives. Imagine 100,000 Christians being recommitted to Christ. I think the numbers are staggering as to the people who have fallen away, and no one has ever attempted to restore. Pastor David Baker suggested, “That could start a church/city wide revival with prodigals coming back to God and maybe even some elder brothers would get right.” What could we do to restore these following individuals? Let’s consider some things.
1. We should value every Christian. Sadly, most people only matter in the church when they are doing the right things and are faithful. Tragically, we let many of them get away without a fight. Satan works at “sifting them as wheat” like he wanted to do to with Peter, but we do little to fight back. We must value these lives. Each fallen life represents other lives as well.
2. We should pray for them diligently, Jesus told Peter, “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” We should pray that their faith would be strengthened and restored, so that they can begin to serve God again. How little people must matter, if we are not even willing to pray for them to be restored.
3. We should identify them. Have you ever considered making a list of all the people who have fallen away? The list would be huge in most churches. Many of these people are doing nothing for Christ. Their lives to not count for God anymore. Some once taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, worked as ushers, or participated in other ministries of the church; however, now they are on the shelf entirely. Take a few minutes to think of people you know who have fallen and never been restored.
4. Decide to fully obey Galations 6:1. When we think of someone being overtaken in a fault, we are thinking of some big or scandalous sin. When someone drops out of church, they have been “overtaken in a fault.” It is our responsibility to restore them. It is time for God’s people to obey what God has commanded us to do. We need to be obedient, if we expect the blessings of God on our churches. Perhaps, that is why God does not bless our churches more.
5. We should do it for Christ’s sake and for their sake, not our own. The reason we should restore these people is for the sake of our Lord, not for the sake of building a bigger church. The reason we should do it, is for the sake of their lives not for our own glory. We should restore them because it’s the right thing to do. We should do it because God would be pleased. A byproduct would be growth in our churches.
6. We should get our church as excited about restoring the fallen as winning the lost. This should become the prevailing attitude in churches. People should be excited about going after those who have fallen, just as they are excited about going after lost souls. In fact, even more so. These are already our brothers and sisters in Christ, and they are part of our body. They should be important to us and we should be excited to restore them.
Brother Ondra suggested that many churches could experience revival, if God’s people became excited about restoring our own. He said, “No one that I know is doing this, and many churches are dying because where there is no vision, the people perish.” I think he is right. Something big could happen if all of God’s people truly decided that Fallen Lives Matter.