Titus 3:14 (NASB)
Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Why is it that so many of our churches fail to meet the needs of those around them? I’ve been in congregations that were seemingly on fire for overseas mission work. They preached Matthew 28:19-20 incessantly and seemed to ignore the fact that there were thousands right in their own community dying outside of Christ.
I’ve heard people suggest that TRUE mission work can’t be done within local congregations because it doesn’t involve cross cultural situations. They think that the ONLY way a church here in America can be mission minded is to support foreign missionaries. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support the work of those that go overseas and preach the Gospel of Christ to those in other countries. My sister has been serving in Ghana, West Africa for several years and I am thrilled that she chose that avenue to serve God. However, I don’t think that negates the fact that our own country is white and ready for harvest.
I’m convinced that we should be community minded when it comes to our churches. So many of us ignore the folks around us until it comes time to case the neighborhood in preparation of V.B.S. How many churches go out into the community and get their hands dirty? How many churches only cater to the folks within a certain economic or ethnic group? Why are American churches the most segregated part of our society? Is that what the body of Christ is supposed to look like? Do we only reach out to those who look/talk/act like us?
I once heard a missionary from Jamaica speak and he challenged those of in the audience to look at our communities and see what needs to be done. He told us that we do need to support foreign workers but not at the expense of those around us every day. He reminded us that with the knowledge of Christ comes a great responsibility. We can’t know the truth and not share it. To do so is to ignore the will of God.
The ways we minister to our own towns can be very simple. It may be that we volunteer time in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. It may be that we start a food pantry or volunteer the use of our buildings to community groups. We need to look and see where the needs are. We need to be fruitful in the places where God has placed us. We need to shine our lights where ever we find ourselves. As I am about to begin a new ministry in a new place with a new group of people…it is my hope and prayer that we think outside of the four walls of the church building. I pray that we will be an active part of our community and that those outside of Christ will see us…living among them…and want what it is that we have.