Have you ever felt invisible? Like someone is talking about you as if you’re not even in the room? They aren’t usually talking about positive things either. Parents do it all the time when talking about their children to other adults and usually the children don’t hear or are just too busy playing to care. However, when this happens to you as a grown adult it can hurt a lot more!
I imagine a lot of people feel invisible while attending church. OK, I might have to explain this one a little. A person who hasn’t made a commitment to Christ walks into a church and what does he/she hear? Often they hear judgment and condemnation for the lifestyle they may be living at that very moment. It’s not directed directly at them, but they get hit with it regardless. They are the unseen casualty of zealous preachers and law-abiding Christians. Sometimes we call it the conviction from the Holy Spirit. No matter what we call it, it’s still outside our job description. Condemnation and judgement have no part in the believer’s response to a broken and hurting world.
At times believers can also be the invisible subjects of unnecessary reproach. As a pastor, I found that one of my favorite means of getting believers to do what I wanted them to do was to talk about them as if they weren’t even in the room. I would start sentences with the phrase, “some believers…” and then go on to describe how they miserably fail to attain the high moral standards of holiness or fail to maintain a daily relationship with God. Then I would contrast that with how a believer should really live, giving compelling scriptural support to my chastisement. The reality is that most of the people I was talking to were struggling. Although I had great intentions and my heart was to see my congregation grow, my approach was little more than a manipulation tactic incorporating shame to propel people toward holiness.
It is way more effective to speak to people’s potential and call out their God-given purpose. You can even do that right to their face, without fear of retribution. It allows the individual to grow and find confidence in themselves and with God without shame. That is a win, win! Church is supposed to be a safe place. Let’s stop throwing rocks at invisible targets. You may not hear an audible cry of pain, but anytime you throw rocks, someone gets hurt.