Meeting a Need
Have you ever pondered the thought, as you observe the throngs of people who occupy our cities and towns, “Lord, how are we to reach all of them?” Not everyone is a follower of Jesus Christ. Many claim a faith-path but sense no need of a spiritual connection in the traditional sense. People have needs, whether those needs are emotional, physical, educational, etc., but many feel the church is not the place to have those needs met or addressed.
Various agencies exist in every community to assist people with a plethora of needs, ranging from the emotional, social and mental. Many assume that the church’s only purpose is to proclaim the gospel through preaching, teaching and singing. Even though that’s not true, the perception exists. It may be that many Christians or those associated with the church possess that same assumption. Could that be partly the reason why most of our churches’ doors are open only for worship on certain days and the remainder of the week they are closed?
The Church’s Role
As Ellen G. White expresses in her book Acts of the Apostles, “The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency.” From that statement, we can conclude that it becomes clear that the church has a task to meet the needs of people via various other means in fulfilling the mission and purpose God intends. God’s agency—the church—is to reflect to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. How can this be accomplished?
This writer believes that the church, in whatever community it is located, cannot be an anonymous entity in that community. It must have an active part in that community. Not just a building and parking lot where the community sees, if it notices at all, activity on a Saturday morning and a sprinkling of people on a night in the mid-week. It is my strong belief that the doors of the church must be open several times during the week to have a positive impact on the community in which it resides. I am suggesting that the church, regardless of its size, must engage itself in the life of the community.
The pastor and members must partner with the community leaders and agencies that serve that community in its advancement. The task is too large and the resources are too limited for any church to believe it can be a lone wolf in having a noticeable, positive impact on the masses of people that occupy our communities. Where there are people, in and out of the church, there are needs, needs that we, as a church, are called to meet under the direction of God’s Spirit.
Wintley Phipps is one of my favorite singers and preachers. Phipps has made a positive impact on the lives of many high ranking officials with his music ministry as he has performed for several presidents of the United States, as well as for senators, congressmen and other heads of state around the world. He often recites this motto of his: “You don’t have to compromise to be recognized.” The same is true for the church. Partnering with the leaders and agencies in the community where the church resides requires no compromise of beliefs or standards. Rather, it serves to further the beliefs and standards that we, as Seventh-day Adventists, hold as the representatives of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Following the example of our Savior, engagement in the communities opens the doors to the hearts of many to the gospel truth.
Consider the following tips for pastors and church members to get involved in their communities:
- Relate. Make personal contact with the city leaders, i.e., mayor, police, fire chief, city council members, local school board chair and members, etc. These contacts are not just for introduction but to let the leaders in the community know that the Seventh-day Adventist church is willing to be an active partner in the community’s advancement.
- Connect. Know the agencies that serve your local community. Encourage pastors and members to become members of community advisory boards.
- Open. Plan to open the church’s doors during the week by partnering with community agencies in activities that serve the community such as: literacy classes; partnering with adoption agencies by hosting adoption parties for potential adoptive parents; tutoring for students, in and out of the church; parenting classes; marriage and divorce counseling (by trained professionals); Gamblers and Alcoholics Anonymous agencies; just to name a few.
Since the church is to serve the community by addressing the needs of that community, it must make itself available. By opening the doors of the church, not just on the Sabbath but serving the community during the weekdays, the community begins to understand by demonstration that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is truly a community minded church that loves and cares for people.
Understanding the times and the evil that persists, the Church is to be a beacon of light in a world of darkness. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7.
Acts of the Apostles continues, “The church is the repository (a place of safekeeping) of the riches of the grace of Christ…and through the church will eventually be made manifest…the final and full display of the love of God.” Allow your local church to be that beacon of light for the Lord Jesus Christ!
The pastor and members must partner with the community leaders and agencies that serve that community in its advancement. The task is too large and the resources are too limited for any church to believe it can be a lone wolf in having a noticeable, positive impact on the masses of people that occupy our communities.
Partnering with the leaders and agencies in the community where the church resides requires no compromise of beliefs or standards. Rather, it serves to further the beliefs and standards that we, as Seventh-day Adventists, hold as the representatives of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Following the example of our Savior, engagement in the communities opens the doors to the hearts of many to the gospel truth.
By Buford Griffith, Jr., Southwestern Union Executive Secretary and Family Ministries Director