One of the most frequently asked questions to a preacher is, “Where has brother and sister so-and-so been lately?” This question is generally asked by a member who has noticed that another member has been missing services. It’s good that folks recognize when others are missing. It tells me they miss them. It reminds me a bit of what Jonathan told David, “thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty” (1 Sam. 20:18). It also tells me that they’re somewhat concerned for their spiritual well-being (cf. Heb. 10:24-25). I say “somewhat” because I sometimes wonder just how genuinely concerned these folks (myself included) really are.
Allow me to explain. If members of our spiritual family have been absent from our assemblies for a few weeks, shouldn’t we, as concerned
family members, be asking those absentees ourselves where they’ve been? I understand that elders and preachers should be leading the way when it comes to visitation, especially the shepherds who have been given the responsibility to watch for our souls–to feed and lead (Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28). But doesn’t the responsibility to know where brother and sister so-and-so have been fall on each of us? All Christians are obligated to “bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:1-2), “warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak” (1 These. 5:14), “visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (Jam. 1:27), “go after that which is lost until you find it” (Luke 15:4), “convert the sinner from the error of his way” (Jam. 5:19-20).
Maybe instead of asking the preacher where brother and sister so-and-so have been, it would be more advantageous for us to ask them ourselves.
Terry R. Townsend
Curry church of Christ