You have probably heard the term, ‘ghosting,’ especially in reference to the dating world. It goes something like this… A guy and gal plan to meet for a date, but one of them never shows up. Did they forget about the date? No, they just decided they didn’t want to see the person. So, instead of meeting to say why, they just disappear! It can also happen with people who have been dating over a period of time. Again, one person decides it’s over, and they just disappear – won’t answer a phone call or text and will eventually block the person’s number with no reason. It’s as though they are suddenly dead.
It’s hard to understand how people can treat each other that way, but what’s with the ghosting going on in the Church!? Some of us (pastors) were discussing this hurtful trend and realized that it is on the rise. In many years of ministry, we have never seen so many people leave the church – and never say a word. It’s as though they think it’s a sporting event or a Sunday morning concert! Once they find something more exciting or they get offended by something or someone – away they go. They leave and never say good-bye, as though that’s okay. It’s not okay.
Perhaps, it is just part of the age we are living in, today… There is a growing spirit of independence in America – and, unfortunately, in the church, as well. Several years ago, my wife and I were serving in a large church in another city. We were asked to meet with newcomers and welcome them, asking about what attracted them to the congregation. On one occasion, we had a fairly large group sitting in a circle discussing that question. As we went around the room, one after another said that what they liked the most was the size of the church. In addition to the excitement of the worship band and solid Biblical teaching, they were drawn to this particular church – because they could come and go and remain anonymous. I cringed inside… Their understanding of the Church was the complete opposite of what the Bible teaches!
In I Corinthians 12:12-27, the apostle Paul describes the Church as the Body of Christ. We are members one of another, called together as a spiritual family, to live out the life of Jesus Christ together. The Church is not about a building or even a Sunday morning service. It’s about born again people – called out of the world and called together – to be His Body on earth. Together, we are to live like Jesus, love like Jesus, and manifest His presence to a lost and dying world.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus said this: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. It’s the way we love one another (or the lack thereof) that speaks volumes to the world. God’s Kingdom is so different from the kingdoms of this world!
As the culture encourages independence and a self-centered lifestyle, we need to embrace one another all the more. Learning to work through our differences, learning to love when it’s difficult, produces maturity in all of us. Running away only continues to divide the Body of Christ and devalues our testimony to the world.
I’m afraid the spirit of the age has invaded the Church. As I stated at the beginning of this article, walking away from our brothers and sisters without even saying why – is not okay. We may have differing views, different understandings of the workings of God, but none of that is a valid reason to walk away without even attempting to work through our differences. We are called to be the Body of Christ, and we need one another.
Let me end by saying this: Stop running away! The “Lone Ranger spirit” has no place in the Body of Christ. If you have left a group without saying goodbye, go back and make amends. Ghosting might be accepted in our culture – but not in the Body of Christ.