Military commanders hate desertion. It drains the fighting strength of their unit and is terrible for morale. It is also contagious if not dealt with, and so historically deserters who were arrested were often in for severe punishment—imprisonment, flogging, or even execution.
Ministry leaders hate desertion too. Not only does it deprive the church’s ministries of someone’s talents, relationships, and energy, but people are concerned about the spiritual state of the soul and heart of the deserter. St. Paul recruited and trained a phenomenal core group of workers for the Lord, but he wasn’t able to keep them all. He wrote to one of his top assistants named Timothy: “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:9,10).
How it must have pained Jesus to lose Judas. How it pains me to see once spiritually active people drop out of regular worship. But I must say that one of my greatest joys as a pastor is to see someone respond to loving invitations and come back to the Lord.
Does your congregation have a board of elders or spiritual care team that seeks after at-risk members? Today would be a good day to pray for them and their work.