Four Simple Ways The Church Can Change the World
Recently someone asked me what our strategy to grow the church is. I appreciated his candor and desire to reach the lost. He has a heart for people and his community. His question was sincere and so I want to answer it in two ways. First, I want to very briefly share what we cannot build the church in our own power. But secondly, that we can partner with God as He grows the church.
God is building His church both through us and in spite of us. It is God’s business to build churches. When we partner with God, we are simply joining God in what He is doing. This is much more fruitful and enjoyable. Jesus said that, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18.) If Jesus is building His church, we don’t want to be in competition against Him by building our own. Secondly, Luke writes that “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:47) So in essence, God commands us to “make disciples” while He builds the church and He adds to its numbers. No doubt that some may use these truths to attempt to justify laziness, However, we should embrace these truths as liberating. God is building his church and adding to His kingdom, yet He uses us in the process. Quite simply, this means that we get to participate in what God is doing, but we don’t have to be responsible for what God is doing. We enthusiastically get to love people, serve people and share Christ without feeling the weight of their salvation or the future of the church is dependent upon how creative, clever or convincing that we are.
This confidence in the power of God causes us to be reminded of the privilege of sharing Christ with others. Sharing Christ with others can change their lives and change our world. At Hope, we are committed to sharing Christ and changing our world in four simple, yet strategic ways. These are the four ways that we feel led to partner with God in chasing the world.
I am so excited that Hope Church is becoming even more committed to missions. The purpose of missions is to proclaim the gospel: the good news of the redemptive love of Christ in communities where there is not a sufficient presence of the church. Missions often include humanitarian outreach that brings medial, educational, and economic relief. But, missions are more than that. It must include the proclamation of the gospel. We support missions by praying, giving, going and sending.
I would also include church planting in this definition. For the purpose of church planting is to create worshipping communities for the sole purpose of reaching people who the church is currently not reaching because of geographical, cultural or missional limitations.
A second form of evangelism is what we call community outreaches. These are regular and special events that are designed to build relationships and introduce people to our ministry. The immediate goal is not to share the gospel at these events, but rather to do events (or acts) of kindness with love, intentionality and no expectations of anything in return. We simply want to love our community. Currently we host a Winter Wonderland Children’s Festival, Fall Harvest Party, Pancakes with Peter Rabbit Easter Event, Vacation Bible School, Family Movie Nights and a host of other events. This can also include acts of kindness like making prayer quilts and having canned food drives. The purpose is simply to be kind and loving to our community.
A Strategic Service:
Next, we try to create a worship service that is reverent to God, but also relevant to those who we invite to hear the gospel. The worship service is clearly dedicated to God, but we also attempt to make it relevant, relaxed and understandable to our first-time guests. I have an expression that I remind myself of often. It simply reads, “It is the service stupid.” The worship service is the front door that most people come through at a church. If our Sunday worship service is not our best, nothing else really matters. In fact, I believe the best gift that we can give to our community is a place where people can gather to worship God, hear His word proclaimed with reverence and relevance, and be connected with others in community and service. Sunday morning matters.
It has been said that “people bring people.” Marketing, creativity, and sizzling programs don’t grow a church. The church grows when we invite others to a place that has transformed us.
This is by far appears to be the scariest part of evangelism. This concept is far too scary for people than it needs to be. We have too many images of knocking on doors, standing on street corners and approaching strangers. I have attended too many evangelism seminars that translated into more intimidation than conversions.
Relax, there is a better and more natural way to share about Christ. We should simply be authentic and nice. Sounds too simple doesn’t it?
What does it meant to be authentic? This means that we don’t have to be perfect, but we do need to be real with people. We don’t pretend to be more Godly than we are, but don’t pretend to be less. It is so refreshing to just be who you are, and allow others to be who they are.
Secondly, we should be nice. I cannot overstate this. Authentic kindness goes a long way. We should look for ways to simply be kind to people without asking for anything in return. We can start by asking people how they are doing and feeling. When things aren’t going well for them, we can offer to pray and help them. We can invite them to lunch, just to be nice and to love them unconditionally. If you are kind and loving, I promise you that at some point, they will ask you why you are so different. Then remember that The Bible teaches us that we are to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1Peter 3:15).
We, as the church, must continue to support missions, periodically host outreach events, have a strategic service and strive be outward-focused people.