The Dayton-Middletown-Cincinnati (Ohio) region is known as the epicenter for the Heroine epidemic that has swept America. Nearly six years ago, the church that I pastored (Kings Point Church of God in Maineville, Ohio) hosted a men’s encounter weekend for a faith-based Heroine and Alcohol Treatment Center in Hamilton, Ohio. Since then, myself along with a team of pastors and church leaders, have led many such encounter weekends for hundreds of men battling opioid addictions (mainly heroine) resulting in men testifying of God performing life-transformational works in most of the men who attend. Over these six years, these men have taught me a lot about the church. Here are five things that I have observed that has helped me be a better worshipper and church leader.
1. That the church should be a place where I can admit that I am weak instead of having to prove that I am strong.
2. That the church should be a place where God can demonstrate His worth to me rather than a place where I think I must prove my worth to Him and others.
3. That the church is to be a place where imperfect and broken people can meet and celebrate God’s generous mercy and perfect love rather than a place where we think we must look and act like we are perfect and have it together.
4. That the church should be a place that is open to acknowledging and wrestling with difficult questions instead of a place with canned and pat answers.
5. That the church is a place for hungry and desperate seekers rather than a place where we scrutinize and judge everything and everyone.
As you can see, I have chosen not to build a case for each of the above points. They speak for themselves. For me personally, when I worship with these men, I think of Psalm 73:27, “I am in the presence of the Lord – oh, how refreshing it is!” (The Message)
My prayer for the local church is that we might return to be a real place where people can be real with a real God. If this can happen, I believe true repentance followed by times of refreshing will fill our houses of worship once again. I want that so badly. I think you do too.
Randy L Ballard