Meeting People’s Needs
Tom Barnard
hineas F. Bresee was a Methodist minister serving in Los Angeles during the late nineteenth and
early twentieth century. As a pastor, editor, and camp-meeting preacher, he became concerned about
the lack of spiritual vitality within the main-line churches of his day. A fiery, evangelistic type of
preacher, he felt led of God to emphasize “holiness of heart and life” in his preaching and teaching,
calling Methodists back to a central emphasis of John and Charles Wesley. In October 1895 Bresee and
about a hundred others in his congregation organized a new church. They called it the Church of the
Nazarene at Los Angeles. From the outset, they visualized their church to be “the first of a denomination
where the poor would be welcome and entire sanctification would be preached.”
Shortly before his death in 1915, Bresee expressed his conviction that a new wave of revivalism was
needed to combat the liberal relativism that abounded within many of the churches of his day. Here is one
of his observations:
Some are looking hopefully toward us.
Let us not disappoint them. Let us not waver. Let us be true.
His message of concern deserves to be revisited today. In every town and city in America there are
hurting people who have become disenchanted with the direction their churches have taken and are
looking “hopefully” elsewhere for their spiritual nourishment. Their needs are not being met. They want
straightforward preaching from pastors who are not afraid to address issues of personal integrity, fidelity,
and purity. They are looking for a church that cares—really cares—about them and their families. They
long to see authentic Christianity in action. They want to know what God’s word has to say about the
issues of the day. They want a pastor and church leaders who are above reproach.
Pastors today have a perfect opportunity for themselves and their churches! They not only have the right
message for these times. They also have the right methodology and the right resources to meet people’s
needs. And if they are willing to take the steps necessary to make their church a place that cares about
people, they will not disappoint.
If you are a pastor and are ready to accept Breese’s challenge, here are a few suggestions to consider:
1. Take a walk around the outside of your church and parking areas. What statement does the
exterior make to those driving by? If changes are needed, make them.
2. Take the same walk throughout the interior of your church. Does the interior say to visitors, “We
are glad you came our way today”? If changes are needed, make them.
3. Review your preaching titles for the past month. Were your sermons biblical, positive, personal,
relevant, evangelistic, and direct? If changes are needed, make them.
4. See that someone contacts every visitor personally. Find out the names of their children. Ask
questions. Be a friend. Be available.
It might take more than a few weeks to get things moving in the right direction. Don’t be discouraged.
Meeting needs is not rocket science. You are in the right place at the right time to do just that. So do it.
Recently my family visited a church in the Boston area. The setting was excellent. Care had been taken to
present an attractive visual appearance. Just before the worship service began, the pastor entered the
auditorium and began greeting everyone personally as he went from pew to pew. We were impressed. I
asked a friend if the pastor did this often. “Every Sunday,” the friend replied. Several hundred were in
attendance. And while he was doing this, his wife also did the same! Everyone was greeted twice that
morning! I have no doubt about what I saw. There is a church that is headed in the right direction.
This is Tuesday Morning Classic (’04) for June 5, 2012. Prior essays are accessible at two websites:
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Meeting People`s Needs