Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple. Open the doors, Where are the PEOPLE?

It was about 2:00 in the afternoon on a cool February day. 

I was in the office typing away when the call came. There was a women in the front office that needed to speak to someone.

As women’s ministry director, I was that someone.

As I entered the area of our church where visitors wait, I spotted my guest. She was an older African-American woman, wearing a tattered overcoat. She had very short gray hair, a huge toothless grin and beautiful, sparkling brown eyes. I would have guessed she was at least 75-80 years old.

According to our receptionist, she lived in the neighborhood and had walked down to the church needing to speak to someone.

I took her hand and introduced myself, and then I led her back to my office so we could talk.

In time, she told me her story and shared of some of the challenges she had lived through. Life had not been easy for her, but she was okay and “happy to be moving and breathing.” (her words)

We talked about her spiritual condition, and she professed that Jesus was her Lord and Savior.

I gave her some books, a Bible and some other materials. Then, I prayed for her and told her I would drive her back home.

As we were advancing the few blocks back to her little corner house, I felt like there was something more that she wanted to say.

As we pulled into the gravel driveway, I asked her if there was anything else I could do for her.

It was a moment I will never forget.

She looked out the window and then looked down at her hands, as if embarrassed.

In a quiet and humble voice, she simply said,

“My kids are off at work, there’s no food in the house, and I was hungry.

So I walked down to the church to see if you might have some food. I was hungry.”

For 2 hours, I’d taken care of this woman’s emotional and spiritual well-being; however, what she really needed was something to eat.

How had I been so clueless?

What had I been thinking?

How did I not notice?

I felt so stupid.

I could have crawled under my car at that point.

I was so embarrassed that I had lectured and prayed and talked this poor woman to death.

For 2 hours, she had patiently waited.

She was just hungry.

All she really needed was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a bowl of hot soup.

I really missed it that day.

As she walked to her door, I told her I’d be back with some food. I drove to the local grocery and bought her enough healthy, comfort food to keep her from starving.

And, from that point forward, that little lady’s house stood as a reminder to me to make sure I was handling people according to their greatest hurts and needs.

Each time I would pass her house (which was on my daily route to work), I would be reminded – people are in need out there.

Sometimes people’s needs are not for prayer or for books or for an eloquent Gospel presentation.

Sometimes people just need something to eat.

Why are we losing so many church members? Why are we not adding new members to our flocks? Here's a poignant story shared to address questions such as these. Read to find out one simple way that we might seek to bring back in some of the people who've left.

I WONDER – are other church members and staff members making the same mistake that I made on that cold day?

Are they trying to meet the wrong needs first?

According to the Barna Research Group, the number of unchurched and uninterested adults is rising.

  • In the 1990’s, only 30% of adults were unchurched.
  • In 2003, 33% of adults were unchurched.
  • Today, 45% of adults are unchurched and the numbers are growing.

Further, many of the used-to-be-active in church members are pulling away and becoming less active. They are attending fewer services and participating in fewer church and religious activities.

What are we to do as pastors, pastors’ wives, ministers, deacons and wives, leaders, teachers and concerned church members?

How are we to reach the unreached group and re-reach the used-to-be-reached group?

These are the questions I hope to answer over the next few Wednesdays – “Why Are Our Churches Losing More People & Not Adding Any New People? And, what can we do about it?”

For today, I’ll conclude with this…

Maybe we need to put away some of our polished plans and programs and just start reaching out to the true needs of those around us.

Maybe we need to make them some soup and a sandwich first, and then ask them if they know our Savior.

Maybe we need to look them in the eyes and show them the love of Christ.

Maybe we’re doing it all wrong.

Over and over in Jesus’s earthly ministry, He had COMPASSION on the people.

Maybe that’s what we all need a little more of ourselves – compassion.

I know I sure do!

Why are we losing so many church members? Why are we not adding new members to our flocks? Here's a poignant story shared to address questions such as these. Read to find out one simple way that we might seek to bring back in some of the people who've left.So, what do you think?

Why are we losing so many church members?

Why are we not adding new members to our flocks?

What can pastors, leaders, and church members do?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

**And, would you do me a favor — if this article has helped you today — would you share it with someone else? 

~ I regularly link to these AMAZING SITES~

For more on the decline in church attendance, see this link:

For more on the compassion of Jesus, see these links:



© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Blessed wife of Randy for over 25 years, mom to two great college students, blogger, women's ministry coach, speaker and author who is amazed by God's grace-

20 thoughts on “Here’s the Church, Here’s the Steeple. Open the doors, Where are the PEOPLE?

    1. Thanks, Stacey!

      I’m glad to join the link up and get to meet a lot of new friends. And, I really appreciate you stopping by to leave kind remark. I love getting visits!

      Hope you have a blessed day,

  1. My husband and I had a conversation with a couple last night about this very thing–being ready and attuned to meet the true needs of those who darken the doors of our church and especially those we go out and meet in our communities. It is easy to miss the real need for what “we think” they need. Thanks for this great metaphor and for the inspiring challenge, Melanie. Thanks also for visiting over at my place. It’s nice to meet ya!

    1. I appreciate you stopping by today and leaving such kind and encouraging words! It is a treat when I get visits and get to meet new friends as well.

      And, it’s interesting that you and your husband were just talking about this last night. I do think people are going to come into our churches just to see how we will treat them! I’m praying we will open our hearts and really ask God to give us compassion, kindness and grace like we’ve never had before.

      You have blessed me today!
      I look forward to many more conversations in the furture~

  2. This so choked me up, her story. I agree that the church of today is all about entertaining the congregation and that is part of why we have had such a struggle trying to find a church that actually cares about their flock. Melanie, God put you in that woman’s path, maybe you didn’t see it at first, but look at how it ended, you were the hands of Jesus put into action. Many would have done nothing.

    1. Hey Michelle,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving some kind words today. I always appreciate you and your encouragement.

      And, my story about the lady who was hungry – that event has changed my heart for good in a way that I can’t explain. It was like a wake up call for me to open my eyes and heart to those around me.

      Her life changed mine that day!

      Thanks for being such a blessing with your words.

      Hope you and your family enjoy an amazing 4th.

  3. Melanie, a meaningful, touching, and convicting story about the precious, hungry lady! I don’t know the answer to the BIG question, why are we losing so many church members, but I’m surely saddened about it.

    1. Thank you, Linda!

      I really do appreciate you stopping by and leaving some kind and thoughtful remarks.

      I don’t think these church questions are easily answered, and yet I still believe that all things are POSSIBLE with God!

      Hope you and your family enjoy a nice, restful 4th~

  4. This post really hits home. We all need to be real, don’t we!!??? Love you, all the way in Memphis!

    1. Hey Sweet Shan,

      Love hearing from you! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a sweet note on my website. I always appreciate the visits, especially from amazing friends like you~

      And, we love you and your family too. (And miss you)!

      Can’t believe all of our babies will be in college in the fall! Where did the time go?
      Hope you enjoy a nice, restful 4th~

  5. I’m such a sap. This story really touched me. I wish I knew why we are losing church members. Sometimes I think that the way of the world has a strong hold on us and it’s hard to fight that off.

    1. Hey Girl,

      This story so impacted that it really changed the way I look at people. I was trying to talk that poor woman to death and she was starving!
      Whenever I lose compassion, God reminds me of her!

      Thanks for returning the favor of a visit! I’m glad to connect with you~


  6. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re not a psychic. You did the right thing before and after she told you her need. Thanks for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things! Blessings!

  7. Oh my godness!!!! I have such a fear of that as I deal with a dear friend in such a hard place. I dont ever want her to feel that Im giving her easy answers for a hard situation or that i could begin to understand what shes going thru!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Hey Linda,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind word today. I will pray that you will know exactly how to deal with your friend that is in a hard place! When I don’t know to say, I just try to be available and kind.

      She is blessed to have a friend like you~

      Hope you have a wonderful week~

  8. Your honesty pricks my heart – and I hope it stays with me as a reminder. We so often ‘go in’ with the solution already determined – we do this even with our kids.

    I think as we rely on our meeting on Sunday to define church, and then participating in programmes during the week as our Christian walk we are creating a bubble lifestyle and people are starting to want more. I certainly do. Not that I have left corporate fellowship, or participating in their activities but I am very aware that I need to be getting involved with people so I can show them Jesus in the face of real life.

    Thanks for this post – I’m going to tag it for our family discussion on Sunday.

    1. Thank you, Belinda!

      I really appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment today. Your words have encouraged my heart!

      I hope your family discussion on Sunday will be enriched a bit by this post.

      Hope you have a blessed weekend~

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