I recently led a workshop in which I shared how many churches today were actively engaging their communities by being the hands and feet of Jesus through acts of service. I suggested that by doing so, the church would be more relevant to the community and doors for spiritual influence would be opened. One of the workshop attendees commented following the workshop about all the “fuss being made” by people today concerning the importance of the church engaging their community. He shared how things had changed in the church throughout the years and wasn’t quite certain that community ministry was really going to make the difference that I suggested. I challenged him, as I do you, to think about all the ways that engaging in community ministry could impact your church and why it’s important. Let me suggest the following ideas for us to consider. If you have more to add, please comment and share with readers.
- It’s Biblical – Jesus communicated His message through word & deed (Luke 4:18-19). We are to meet the physical needs of people when we are aware of them (Matthew 25:34-40). Christ sent out the disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to meet personal needs (Luke 9:1-6). Jesus had a special place in His heart for those shunned and rejected by society regardless of their socioeconomic level (Luke 14:12-14).
- Helps identify prospects – ministering church will never run out of prospects. De-churched believers as well as the lost – when touched by ministry evangelism may look to the church as a place where they can belong.
- Builds witnessing relationships with people – the relationship is the incarnation of Christ and may help them understand a verbal witness and establishes trust and respect that is sometimes necessary to gain a hearing for the gospel.
- Creates opportunities to share the gospel – if we’re not intentionally evangelistic, then we shouldn’t be doing community ministry because welfare and charitable agencies already exist and usually have more resources.
- Increases visibility and connects church with the community – even people who push away from religion are attracted to gestures of compassion and help. It will testify to the genuineness of your church’s faith and open doors that you never thought possible.
- Creates opportunities of service for members – joy is found in serving. Believers want and need to serve – but not all are given the chance if opportunities ONLY exist within the walls of the church. You’ve heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. It may be that God intended for those not included in the 20% to use their passions/gifts/talents outside the walls in ministry to the community.
- Allows believers to grow in discipleship – believer use his/her gifts, talents, education and experiences in service to the Lord. This forces them to learn to communicate their faith. May stir them to deeper Bible study OR serve as a catalyst for a call to ministry or missions.
- Enables people to catch a vision for local missions – it’s not just something done “over there”. Ministry happens anywhere there are believers sharing the gospel with the lost and hurting. Serves as a stimulus for missions in general – opening their eyes to needs they had never noticed before.
I wanted to say to the gentleman I’d been talking with – that’s what all the “fuss” is about! But that wasn’t true because to fuss, is to “show unnecessary or excessive concern about something” and we can’t show too much compassion or have too much concern for those who don’t know Christ.