I follow an individual on twitter who I believe to be a great man with a heart for God. He is a successful businessman, a published author and a sought after speaker in Christian circles. Added to that he has over 27K followers on Twitter and that says a lot. In a recent Twitter post this individual said, “If churches serve their community w/o explaining how to receive Christ, we’re not much more than the Kiwanis Club.
I understand exactly what this gentleman (who used to be an atheist) is saying and I could agree but I don’t. I’m not mentioning his name because it’s not necessary. My intent in this post is not to call him out. My intent is to give a different view.
At the present I am leading my congregation into several community outreaches. These outreaches do not include a planned presentation of the gospel in words. I want to give you 4 reasons why I think these types of outreaches are necessary.
Before I do that I want to make something crystal clear. I believe that Christians should take every opportunity to share their faith and present the Gospel. When we do community service events we encourage our people to step in, they think the door is open and the individual receptive. Now to those reasons why community service outreaches are necessary.
1. To change the mindset of our community: It may be cultural but where I live, un-churched people are extremely cynical about The Church. Alabama is not only the “heart of Dixie,” It’s the heart of the “Bible Belt.” I actually live near Florida and one of the nearby counties just across the boarder is known for having the most churches per capita of any place in the world. In my small town there are churches on every corner. The radio airways are full of Christian music, Bible teachers and screaming preachers. It’s not unusual to see people preaching on the street corners to passing cars. Bumper stickers that say things like “Turn or Burn,” or scriptures that speak only of Hell abound and they are usually on old, dirty vehicles. People are cynical because they visit a church and enjoy everything but the time for the bringing of tithes and they leave saying, “all that church cares about is money.” Our community is small so our focus is to change the way people think of churches.
2. Preparing the Soil: In the parable of the sower Jesus compared how the word of God, the seed is received on different types of soil. He started with “some fell by the wayside.” The wayside is the place where the ground is hard. It really doesn’t matter how much seed you throw there it’s not really going to have a chance to get into the soil and grow roots. So what we are doing with community service events is an attempt to soften the hearts of people so that they will be receptive to the gospel. They might even decide to attend church because an act of kindness made an impact on their lives.
3. Because The Holy Spirit Uses It: Because this post is longer than I like for mine to be all I want to say here is this. Because Holy Spirit helps us our community service events carry way more power than those of social organizations. A bottle of cold water with the working of Holy Spirit is powerful!
4. Because Jesus said to do it: Matthew 24:34-40 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
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