Service is the Pathway to Impacting the Community and Kingdom Growth

If your church one day ceased to exist, what would people in the community say? 

  • Good! I'm glad to get rid of those mean-spirited, difficult people; or
  • I didn't even know they existed; or
  • Oh no. What will we do? This church has meant everything to do this community!

When I first heard this question years ago, it struck me. Perhaps it was because most churches I was a part of growing up seemed to be little known in the community. 


But I think it was because, intuitively, it struck me that the church should be known and should be so impactful on the community that people would mourn its loss. Somewhere in the back of my mind were Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount:


13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

   14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Mt. 6:13-16).


In The Externally Focused Church, authors Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson emphasize that service is the pathway to impacting the community and kingdom growth. 


"As we moved outside the walls of our church, we weren't surprised that the lives of those we were serving changed. But we were caught a little off guard by the community's receptivity, the eagerness with which people volunteered their time and energy, and the resulting changes in their lives . . . . For two years LifeBridge members helped clean toilets and paint hallways at local elementary schools during Christmas break. Recently we were invited into kindergarten classrooms to help the kids make crafts. At the same school in which we had cleaned toilets for two years, we are now able to have a direct impact on the students and the teachers. Last year when a local high school student took his life, the school principal called Lifebridge." p. 57-58


Through these types of acts of service, Lifebridge grew from 1100 to 3000, with 80% of their growth coming from the unchurched and dechurched in their community.


This was, in fact, how the early church grew as well, and how we can grow too.


What needs do you see in your community, and how can the church serve and meet these needs? Why is service so impactful in reaching people for Christ?



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Comment by TERuther on April 14, 2011 at 6:39am

It is interesting that this topic should come up!  I recently went into the community to ask seek sponsorship for a tournament we were holding in support of the local soup kitchen.  I visited about 20-25 businesses in our town.  I was surprized that in their willingness to support the soup kitchen they had not heard about the church.  In fact some didn't even know where it was, who the pastor was, and who were members.  But there is truth to the fact of making lemonade out of lemons, because in the process of talking about supporting the hungry, the Lord also gave me an opportunity to introduce or at best reintroduce our congregation's ministry to many of them.  One of the biggest problems churches, and new start missions seem to be having is focusing on the character, the people and the needs of the community they serve, and then asking the Lord to help them act on what they learn.


Comment by James Nored on April 13, 2011 at 3:20pm
Thanks, Timothy! I fixed it.
Comment by Timothy Tien on April 13, 2011 at 3:15pm
I suspect you may have omitted the word 'ceased' in your opening sentence.

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