I’m afraid it happens. The congregation we once loved has brought pain, and it’s hard—if not impossible—to love them now. If that’s where you are, here are some suggestions I pray will help:
- Enlist some prayer warriors to pray for you and your church. Don’t try to change your heart alone. You can’t do it, and you’ll only grow more frustrated. Intentionally seek God’s help to love His people again.
- Admit your feelings to God. He already knows them, and He’s big enough to handle them and work in your heart at the same time.
- Do something loving for your church. Godly love is not dependent on having the right emotions; it’s about doing the right thing to express love even when our feelings aren’t there. Doing something loving might be as simple as (a) praying for members and letting them know you’re doing so; (b) letting go of anger toward others who’ve hurt you; or (c) ministering practically (e.g., cutting grass, etc.) to someone who drives you crazy.
- As needed, confess your own wrong. Never are we perfect, and seldom are we not at least a part of the problem. Be willing to consider whether you've contributed to the problem at all.
- Remember some good times with the congregation. I’m assuming you’ve had at least a few good times with the congregation. If so, hold on to those memories. Talk about them with someone. Thank God for them, and ask Him to give you some more.
- Ask God to show you a glimpse of where He’s working today. He loves your congregation even if you don’t anymore, and He’s working someplace. Trust Him to open your eyes to His work.
- Seek reconciliation with someone. Sometimes it’s easy to think we no longer love the church, when only 1 or 2 persons are the real problems. Humbly and prayerfully address those persons as needed. Even it change is not immediate, God will honor your steps of obedience.
- Remember that some people become unlovable because of private issues in their lives. Particularly if folks were formerly more lovable, it’s possible they’re dealing with stuff you don’t know about. For example, health concerns, family issues, financial struggles, and personal sin can make many of us less lovable.
- Go back to the Word. At the risk of appearing arrogant and self-serving, I invite you to listen to this sermon I preached at the Southeastern Seminary chapel last fall: “You Want Me to Do What?” It’s the easiest way for me to encourage you to love God’s people.
May God help all of us to love His church!