Ask Anna

Ask Anna

Anna addresses pressing questions.

By the Journal team.

Dear Anna,

We have three children. Usually they are well-behaved but not always. Many in our church are supportive, but some expect more from “the pastor’s children.” How should I respond to those who openly criticize our children for not meeting expectations?

Before your members have a chance to criticize your children, assure them that neither you, your husband, nor your children are perfect. Remind them that you are very human. Invite them to pray daily for your family and your children.

If they then criticize the children openly to others, ask them in a gentle way to speak directly to you—it is a Matthew 18 issue. Try not to be defensive; be gracious instead. Remember that you do not have to explain your children’s behavior nor defend them to these individuals. Without agreeing or disagreeing, simply thank them for their concern and invite them again to pray even more earnestly for your family.

Perhaps you could visit the critical parents and ask them to share with you stories of how God helped them in their child-raising. Invite them to share tips with you.

Teach members how to minister to all the children of the church. Create an atmosphere in the congregation in which children and teens feel loved, encouraged, guided, and empowered in ministry. Along with the others your own children will be the beneficiaries of this love.

In a lesson to the whole church, perhaps during a sermon, the pastor could distribute to each of the members a stone from a bag of decorative stones and tell the Bible story: He who is without sin may cast the first stone, a lesson in loving and helping each other, especially the children of the church.

Dear Anna,

I enjoy being active in our church, and I would like to become more involved with the non-Adventist community in our area. How can I do this?

It is a great privilege to move outside of the “church cocoon” and spread your wings to bring beauty into the wider community. Opening our hearts and hands to people of other faiths or no faith at all will help break down the walls of prejudice and fear within ourselves. Good for you! Perhaps, however, we should consider the Scripture: “We ought to do the one [minister within the congregation] and not leave the other [ministry in the community] undone!”

  • First, ask God what He has in mind. He is likely placing the wider community on your heart for a specific purpose. Pray with the intention of acting on God’s response.
  • Find ways the ministries you serve in the church can connect with the community.
  • Invite church members to join you in community ministry.
  • Make an inventory of all the service organizations in your community. Pray about each one and see if God points you to a specific one that matches your gifts and interests.
  • Look for needs in the community that you or a team of members can meet.
  • Smile and speak with real interest to every person your life brings you in contact with—the more you do this, the easier it will become.
  • Develop a hobby or take a class that interests you, and build relationships with others.
  • Become involved in a sport that will connect you to other people.
  • Be sure that you are daily with God in His Word and in prayer so that you will have a fresh testimony of what God is doing in your life to share with those you meet.
New experiences, surprises, and an exciting life of service will surely be yours!