How Can the Church Impact Our Communities

In his book “Core Christianity: What is Christianity All About?” Elmer Towns utilizes chapter nine to teach us about the purpose of the church. The church was created to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ on earth. The Holy Spirit was sent to the believers to aid them in spreading the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The church exists to create a community of believers who are reaching the lost and discipling new believers. Unfortunately, the church has not always been successful at the task. There have been many times throughout its history where the church has succeeded at freeing those in bondage, feeding those who were hungry, protecting those being abused, and sharing the good news of God’s forgiveness of sin. Today, the church in North America finds itself dealing with an identity crisis. We became so consumed with creating an alternative culture to our society that we convinced the world we were irrelevant. And now the church is faced with the dilemma of breaking back into the culture. But how do we convince our society that we are here to help?

I believe the first task at hand will be dealing with our differences and our disagreements. Christianity is a reasonable religion, and because of this we do often find ourselves in debate and discussion over some points. These discussions are important and even healthy for our faith, but we cannot allow secondary arguments to become dividers. By this I do not mean we must all agree on everything, but that those things of which we disagree cannot become greater than the things that unite us. Of this I am not speaking of primary things. There are foundational principles of Christianity that believers must not waiver on, but it is the secondary (and sometimes even tertiary) things that we must not allow to create divisions of animosity and anger between believers. Jesus said the world would know us by our love for one another. But what the world sees is a divided religion that cannot agree on the small things. The truth is we need to accept that the teachings of Jesus allow for a great diversity within the body of Christ. The words we read in our Bibles are not as important as the accuracy of the message, our styles of music are not as significant as the praise that it should encourage, and we have not all been called to champion the same causes. We all have differing gifts, abilities, and passions that are to be used in ministering the gospel of Jesus. It is ok that some prefer an organ playing our music, there is nothing wrong with praising God with a rock band, and many have found themselves led to the feet of the Father while listening to a praise team. The Bible does not speak against these things, and within the covers of scripture Christ’s church is allowed to be diverse. Elmer Towns writes, “The glue that bonds them as a community is their transformation by Christ – Christ indwells each one, and they share this common experience with one another (102).” When we unite, not under the same roof but under the same message, we will reach the world.

Once we unite against the enemies of the gospel, and by that I mean Satan and his minions, we would begin to experience a revival in North America. Why is it that our society continues to degrade into immoral behavior? Why do we see depravity all around us, despite our pleas? Why do they not hear our screams and threatening of God’s coming judgment? The simple truth is because they do not understand that we care. The world only sees a group of people who want everyone else to conform to their way of life. And for the most part that is our fault. Instead of love we have leveraged our power, our numbers, and our governmental system to keep so-called Christian values in a position of prominence. And now, we have lost all of those things. America may have been founded on Christian principles, but the America of today is a long way from a Christian nation. Jesus did not instruct his followers to impose him on their society and they were never encouraged to enforce his teachings on those who did not believe. Jesus taught that all of his followers are to live life openly and seek those who are in desperate need of God’s love. Towns writes, “To Christianize a nation is not to pass Christian laws, or force Christian baptism on everyone. Christianization does not start at the top and move down. Rather when Jesus Christ transforms individuals, they begin living for Christ in their homes and in their churches; then they begin to influence the larger society (124).” We are to teach God’s laws, humanity’s need for redemption, and Jesus’ success as our salvation. We do this by earning an audience with those around us. The church has been equipped to meet the needs of the abandoned, the hungry, the abused, and the lost. When we stop focusing our time and effort on enforcing our belief, we will see that the world is very open to the idea of Jesus followers. Jesus followers not only share the good news of Jesus, but meet the needs of society. It was not often in Jesus’ ministry that he had a receptive audience without first meeting someone’s physical needs. If we want the world to hear what we have to say, we must first make sure they realize our motive is love.

In closing, the church has become very misunderstood but much of the problem is our own doing. I spent this post talking about our shortcomings, but the church has been successful on many fronts. I believe on these two things we are in need of repentance and revival. We cannot allow our differences to make us opponents and we cannot view the world as our enemy, it is our mission. Through loving each other and those around us, we can find opportunities to meet the needs of those who are destitute. And in those moments of love, the gospel shines the brightest.

Reference:
Towns, Elmer. “Core Christianity: What is Christianity All About?” 2007. AMG Publishers. Chattanooga, TN.

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