Would the community know if the church no longer existed? Does the church make enough of an impact that it would be missed if it were gone?
Sobering questions indeed, but questions that identify the effect the church has on the community it serves. Has the church moved past the “don’t bother us, we won’t bother you” attitude?
We read the story of the Good Samaritan and condemn those who walked past the injured man without showing any concern for his needs. They had the means and opportunity to help, but lacked compassion, humility, or initiative–or maybe all three. In the story of the Good Samaritan, which person is the church?
Personal or national tragedy seems to cause a major shift in people’s assessment of church. It is a time when people flock to churches in droves. Suddenly signs everywhere read, “God Bless America”. There is just something about churches that society finds in times of tragedy and hardship.
But, in times of peace and prosperity, the church seems to become irrelevant again. The Christian Church is in desperate need of a more positive and accessible image. The most influential aspect of Christianity in America is how believers do, or do not, implement their faith in public and private. An increase in visibility will change people’s impressions and interest.
The church’s responsibility to society has been important and challenging since the beginning of Christianity. For example, Jesus was concerned for the lost sheep.
There is a sense of urgency for the church to respond. Both the church and society tend to show apathy confronting the human condition that exists. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, racism, and lack of inclusivity in front of us all. Apprehension can lead to disaster and hinders progress.
The church needs to be held accountable, to be accountable to someone and something. It implies a reaction to those needs of society. The “who” and the “what” are of equal importance and must be addressed simultaneously. What the church is responsible for depends on those they serve.
We must consider both past and future service.
Scripturally, God calls us to service.
The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. Isaiah 14:24
For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back? Isaiah 14:27
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:10-12
The Lord shows us the purpose. The believer is called to carry it out.
“What is the role of the church in today’s society.” The same as it was 2,000 years ago. The role is the same because the needs are the same because, every society still needs God, every society still needs Christ, every society still needs the gift of the Holy Spirit.
There comes a point where we must dig in and get our hands dirty. Relationships are essential to making that work. It requires involvement in the local community.
It is inconceivable that any institution as extensive as the church should exist without some role to play, some work to perform, and some mission to accomplish.
So how can a church impact its community? Simply put, watch, and listen for a need and go about meeting that need. Use the church’s resources to accomplish the challenges.
For example, ask yourself: What are the societal needs present within our community? Then consider”
- What are the financial resources available?
- Who in our church are available to volunteer?
- How can the church cooperate with local leaders, school districts and social service agencies to meet the needs?
In response to this commitment it is important not to spread your resources to thin. Taking on too much can lead to accomplish nothing.
And it is always important to remember that everything is to be done with love, expecting nothing in return. Service is always a reflection of what Jesus would do always promoting the Good News of the Gospel, sharing the love and mercy of God.
When the voice of a culture, and not the word of Christ, is what governs the church, then it is no longer the church. It’s just a social club of people desperately trying to keep up with the cultural fashion. Ironically, that’s the quickest way to close your church. Why would anyone bother coming to a church that is indistinguishable from anything else?!
Loving others helps them learn about and appreciate our God. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16. These are so important concepts!!!! A sermon about each sometime?
So, find a need…and meet it! Demonstrate the love of Christ to your neighbors in practical, simple ways, and make an impact on your community.
The church must do away with all excuses and re-claim its place as a leader in society. It is never too late to provide a positive influence. The church can keep people grounded, flushing out the burden of life by providing a bedrock of faith and answers to humanity’s deepest needs.
Churches, big or small, must be willing to accept this role to face the many challenges ahead. The church must start by look deep within itself and arise to serve the needs of all people in the name of Christ. Now is the right time to become the church that Christ expects it to be.