As we discuss what the purpose of the church is, we have looked at the role of leadership, being to equip the members to preach the Gospel in their life, and then we looked at how we as believers need to interact with one another. Next we want to consider what we are a congregation should do for the world around us.
The first level of needs that should be met in a congregation is its own needs. Just like in family life, the first obligation of anyone should be to take care of his own family (1 Timothy 5:8). Once our family is taken care of we can help to support the needs of the church, that is helping to support the needs of those who have them within the congregation. This does not include those that have needs because they do not work to meet their own obligations. Paul says:
For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
But for those with legitimate needs we should be ready to stand up out of our abundance and help those in the faith. Paul writes:
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
Our giving, whether to churches or to others in need, should be out of our heart with love and out of our abundance from hard work. Our first charge is to our family, the second is to the believers, and the final charge to be gracious to the world. Paul writes:
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith (Galatians 6:10).
So what does it mean to do good to all people? I believe that means that we are conscientious of the world around us. We need to be looking around, working hard, using our resources wisely, and not be constantly distracted by the world around us. Rather than be completely taken in by television, games, and sports, we should seek opportunities to meet the needs in the world around us. Consider the following as ideas to get thinking about where and how to do good deeds to others.
Check Availabilities in Church
Many churches have good opportunities to meet the needs of those suffering in the world through soup kitchens, children’s programs, homeless initiatives, and the like. I would be cautious of simple programs geared to building the church membership or other soft-theology programs based on an easy salvation message, but look to those seeking to meet real needs. The programs that will have the most impact are based on developing relationships and loving people whether or not they pray for Christ or join the church. Churches should be the first line of defense to feed those in real need, but we should not stop there. We should have availabilities to teach those who need to be taught to provide and mentor those in Christ who need to understand Him more.
Check Other Community Churches
If your church does not have opportunities to serve Christ well than consider looking at other churches to serve in their programs. It is not bad to attend one church that speaks to you spiritually but work in programs run by another church. Such work will also provide unity in the body of Christ and you will develop friends from other churches, also a great positive thing. Remember that God is gloried when His work is done. We do not need to be fighting over what church is better or worry about stealing church members. Go to the church that speaks to you, and go to where you can do the work prepared for you.
Reach Outside the Church
I have done a lot of work in general community services like Big Brothers Big Sisters. Others find ways to serve Christ in foster care, nursing home visits, service in food banks and Toys for Tots. Check with local community organizations like United Way or even local governments to see what you can do to help the people in the community. We are not called to just work inside the church, because our involvement with the community at large will also teach people that do not know Christ that Christians are about more than just inviting people to church. We need more Christians that step into the dirty world to serve the Lord there.
Consider What all you can do
Serving people is multifaceted. It is not just about time or about money, but about giving our life, our prayers, and our resources to the ministry that God calls us to. In Ephesians, Paul says that we are created for good works that we should walk in them. Our Christian life is not just about getting saved and partying for God, it is about loving the world as fallen as it is, whether the world is full of believers and church members, or sinners and the lost. We need to serve God well in the world and the places that we find ourselves.
The church leadership should be teaching the people sound doctrine and preparing them to handle the world outside the walls of the church, and then the people need to be sent into the world. Inside the church, the people should be encouraging one another in our daily walk including Bible study, prayers, and general encouragement. Once the service is over, it is our turn to shine. We need to be serving the community and the people around us seeking how to best fulfill the commands of Christ and always keeping ready a defense for the hope that is within us.