The Times-Reporter of New Philadelphia, Ohio, reported in September 1985 a celebration of a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at the New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, 200 people gathered, including 100 certified lifeguards. As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, 31, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards celebrating their successful season.
We have made community outreach so complicated that the church is so busy talking about it, planning to implement it, that it fails to actually do any of it. Consequently, we miss the fact that the very people we are trying to reach outside our church buildings are dying without knowing the salvation we proclaim inside those life-saving stations.
By now you should know that my goal in writing this blog is not to be critical of the church, but instead to provide simple, practical, easy to implement processes to aid the church in carrying out its mission and purpose. The church is the one place where true hope and healing can be found in a broken and at times, hopeless world. Armed with this challenge, here are two things that every congregation can do that will have a kingdom impact on its community:
- The church needs to be small enough to care about those around it and
- Large enough to dare to do something great for the kingdom.
Small Enough to Care For Those Around Us.
Compassion is a natural characteristic that defines the church because it defines its leader. The Bible is littered with accounts of Jesus Christ taking time out to notice the broken, the outcast, the downtrodden, the person on the margins in his midst. He displayed compassion on those outside the margins even when a dear friend, Lazarus, had more pressing needs. For the church that Jesus left behind to carry out his work, what are those characteristics that we can expect to find in a caring congregation?
Caring People are Christ-Centered
5…adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember: Though He was in the form of God, He chose not to cling to equality with God; But He poured Himself out to fill a brand new vessel; a servant in the form and a man indeed. The very likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself, obedient to death—a merciless death on the cross! So God raised Him up to the highest place and gave Him the name above all. So when His name is called, every knee will bow, in heaven, on earth, and below. And every tongue will confess “Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord,” Philippians 2
Human nature says to focus on yourself, place your needs above all else. However, Christ would have us strive for so much more. He would have us treat others as he treats us with the kind of love that sacrificed self for the greater good.
Caring People have learned to be attentive to the needs of others
3 Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. 4 Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first. Philippians 2:3-4
Like the bumper sticker says, “Start seeing motorcycles”. We, through the eyes of faith, need to “start seeing hurting people” and when we see them respond with a caring heart and provide for their needs.
Caring People Living in Vibrate Community with One Another
The writer of Hebrews does an amazing job of painting a picture of how a vibrant community lives out the faith.
Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us since our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies are washed with pure water. Let’s hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, because the one who made the promises is reliable. And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:22-24
Large Enough To Dare To Do Some Great For God’s Kingdom.
When Jesus gives us a mission, he also gives us the power to complete that mission. So the church needs to be bold in its witness to the communities in which God has called it to serve. I will leave you with the words of Paul in Romans 8:
If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you.”
Churches, you can do great things for God because God has placed within you the same power of the Holy Spirit the Apostles received at Pentecost. So be strong, be courageous, be mission-driven, and empowered by the Spirit of God.