Preaching Articles

“If it weren’t for those __________ churches…”

I will never forget that statement.

I was in my mid-twenties, serving on a board of the local non-profit. We were discussing how we could raise more support for the organization.

I had participated most of my working career (which was obviously short at that point), financially contributing personally and helping them raise funds. Every year, we had the same discussion. How could we raise more money to do more good?

In the middle of our discussion, a greatly respected and leading businessman in our community made that statement. “If it weren’t for those _______churches, we would have plenty of money. All churches do is take from the community, serve their own interests, and rob the community of needed money for charity.”

The room instantly echoed and agreed with his bold remark. I was young and intimidated, so I said nothing.

Honestly, however, those words stung.

As an active member of one of the largest churches in town, I didn’t believe anything he was saying. Our church, along with most churches in our community, was doing good things to help people.

If all we did was change people’s lives and send better people back into the community, we would be doing good things, but there were many church-connected ministries helping people in our city. Not to mention, many of the top contributors to this organization were active members of some of those same churches. (I was one of them.)

I never forgot those words, though. They shaped me and my view of ministry.

Years later, when God placed the dream on my heart to plant a church in my hometown, I knew some of what that church would look like.

Not that I seek the approval of man, but I wanted to be a part of a church that reversed that paradigm some have from the outside looking into the church. I wanted to be part of a church that would truly make a difference in our community, so much so that if we were gone, people would miss us.

One of the first things we did as a church was to partner with our city to reach some low income, impoverished areas of the community.

For the past several years, once a year, we have put together as many as 1,400 people to invest in people outside the walls of our church. We sent over 800 people into our schools to meet the requests of principals and teachers, completing things their budgets couldn’t afford to do.

We participated with local radio stations to gather thousands of pounds of food for the poor.

We’ve helped to launch a ministry to homeless people and one to military wives. We’ve been consistently called upon by our community to help with local festivals and events and even by our mayor to help in flood recovery efforts.

My wife, who works in a local credit union and is active in the community, is frequently asked, “Are you part of that church that’s always helping people?” We love that question. We both get it often.

I think our intentional investment is one of the primary reasons our church has grown into one of the fastest growing churches in America in a little over six years.

Please understand, I’m not trying to brag about what we are doing.

I believe other churches are making a huge difference in their community, certainly many more than ours. I simply want to encourage any church I lead to show our city the love of Jesus and maybe even encourage your church (and mine) to do more.

I think we have a better chance of reaching our cities for Christ if they know we care. The more we get out of our buildings and meet real needs, the more we’ll have opportunities to share the hope we know is in Christ.

In my time at Grace, we’ve tried to be intentional about letting our community know we love them … and so far … it is working. I’ve got a new assignment in ministry ahead, and in my discussions so far I’m encouraging this church also to greatly invest in its community.

What is your church doing to display the love of Christ to your community in a practical way?

Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years of business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he's been in full-time ministry for over eight years.  

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Janis Walton

commented on Mar 15, 2014

When we came to our community eleven years ago, I would hear "Oh! You are at the angry church!" ...daunting to say the least. We immediately determined to change the reputation of the church for the sake of Christ. It's not about OUR reputation. It's about HIS. I'm happy to say that that has happened and we often hear about how much the church is appreciate for what they do in the community. I was standing in line at the grocery store and the city planner was ahead of me and arranged to pay my grocery bill. I don't think you can get more active in your thanks than that. Ministry MUST be out of the four walls of our church building or we will not be effective.

Elizabeth Scott

commented on Mar 15, 2014

I been a member in a church for 30 yrs that has helped the community or strangers as the bible predicts, and now that our pastor is up in age some members voted in someone else to come as an asst. and nothing is right,members and the community is not suffering and can't get him out, it is all about him, Christ is dead in this church pray that we be what God will have us to be and get this adversary out.

Ron Hietsch

commented on Mar 15, 2014

Sadly the businessman is right in many cases. Some Churches are completely inwardly focused and have created ornate Christian museums for members only. They request giving levels from their members that prevent the members from contributing to more worthy causes.

Dr James Sutton

commented on Mar 17, 2014

I am in a current situationthat seems to be focused only on food fun and fellowship.everything is created to secure social hierarchy and maintaining the current group.all the ministries are being created for the group and the group only. But, we have three hundred children who passed the Church everyday and/or doing nothing to reach out to them. As you may have guessed we have went from 200 members down to 30.this is been a sad but an interesting experiment.I have a question for anyone. What can I do? I am in the middle as the pastors assistant but I really do not have a voice. We are losing members every 3 months. How can we turn it around?

Mark A. Barber

commented on Mar 15, 2014

I wonder if the churches closed whether there would be more or less charitable giving. It is true that some churches, too many are inwardly focused, but this is because it is made up of inwardly focused people. they would probably not give to charity unless they saw a direct benefit to themselves. So I think these charities are whistling Dixie. When the Roman apostate emperor Justinian tried to create Pagan charities he wryly noted that the Jews fed their own and the Christians fed everyone. However, the Pagans fed no one. Our job is not primarily to minister to needs in the community but rather to offer Jesus Christ.

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