If you drive down the street in just about any town, you are sure to see a church or two or thirty. As you pass each of these buildings marked by stained glass, steeples reaching up to the sky, and a sign out front with Sunday service times, you wonder to yourself, “I wonder who goes there?” Every Sunday, the parking lot is full of cars, and people scurry in and out of the building like ants.
What if instead of huddling inside our walls, we loved in tangible ways outside of them? What if people didn’t have to wonder who the church was because they saw us in action as we help, cheer on, stand alongside, provide when possible, and serve wherever needed? We will never be able to meet all the needs of people this side of heaven, but the church can meet people’s needs, connect with them, and show them a Jesus that loves them. I believe that every church must love the community around them.
Here are five outcomes when the church loves its community:
1. We Paint a Different Picture
Every time I hear a news story about the church, I cringe in anticipation. What did we do now? What was uncovered? Who was hiding secrets? The picture the world gets of the church most days is scandalous and shameful. However, when we practically love the community around us, it paints a different picture. When our community sees us as the place to turn to instead of the place to turn on, we paint a picture of service and sacrifice. We are not the black eye of the national media.
“When our community sees us as the place to turn to instead of the place to turn on, we paint a picture of service and sacrifice.”
2. We Give Instead of Take
We have all heard that “the church wants our money.” However, when we love and serve our community, we show with our actions that it is not about what we want to take but what we can give. Providing an air conditioner for a single mom, cleaning up abandoned houses, hauling off debris, repainting city parks, or providing free tickets to the local high school football game changes the perception of the church. Jesus is about giving, not taking, and His church should be the same.
3. We Break Down Barriers
Walking into a church for the first time can be highly intimidating. There are so many fears and unknowns if you have never been to church before. However, many fears are erased when the church walks into the neighborhood to help solve problems, answer questions, and heal brokenness. When the community sees the church taking the first steps, it is more likely to follow. When we actively love our communities through service and standing alongside, we become less like a gang or country club and more like friends and neighbors.
4. We Engage Men
I’ve not met many guys that eagerly anticipate an opportunity to talk through feelings and emotions or who love to sing about God’s beauty in a room filled with people. There is nothing wrong with that, and it is needed, but if you hand a guy a chainsaw, a hammer, or put him in the seat of a lawnmower or tractor, you have engaged him at a deeper level. The more we can engage and equip men to serve, the better equipped they will be to serve their families. Men connected to the church’s work are better positioned to connect with Jesus.
“Men connected to the church’s work are better positioned to connect with Jesus.”
5. We Prioritize a Bigger Mission.
Serving and loving a community takes the focus off of you. When we love our communities in tangible and practical ways, we engage in the mission of Jesus. We open the door to allow God to work through kindness and conversation. The breakthrough might not be at that moment, but seeds are planted. When families and communities walk through tragedy, those seeds of kindness grow, and faith becomes real. If we never live out a bigger mission than ourselves, who will ever get to see Jesus?
Your church has been uniquely placed in your community to carry the mission of Jesus forward. If we sit inside our walls expecting people to show up, we miss the mission and fail to be the church Jesus called us to be. When love becomes tangible, love becomes desirable. It is up to the church to take the first step.
From leadrural.com. Used with permission.