Summary: First of a four part series on how our church impacts the community through the ministry of our members.
In light of all the recent news about the financial crisis in our country, I thought it was rather interesting that I came across this article from June of 2004 that reported that Freddie Mac had adopted a new logo in order to “reflect the company’s renewed focus on its vital housing mission”
That logo featured the tagline “We make home possible”. Over four years later, most of us would conclude that their logo, while it may very well reflect their intended mission, doesn’t reflect very accurately what has actually occurred over the last four plus years.
I’m praying that our church’s logo, which contains the tagline “Connecting with God, Connecting with Others, Caring for our Community” is a much more accurate representation of what we actually accomplish as a body of believers. Those three phrases represent our calling as followers of Jesus Christ to “go and make disciples.” Our first goal is to help people connect with God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The next step is to help us develop relationships with others in the body. Jesus made it quite clear that the way the world will identify us as his followers is by the way we love one another:
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
John 13:35 (NIV)
But the ultimate goal is to develop disciples that will have an impact on those outside the church by caring for our community. I believe that this is what Jesus had in mind when He spoke to His disciples in the vineyard shortly before His death:
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8 (NIV)
It is that third aspect of making disciples that we want to focus on for the next four weeks. We all know how important it is for the body of Christ to reach outside the walls of the church. We’ve seen how it is God’s plan for the church to be the means by which the manifold wisdom of His ways and His plan of salvation are to be made known to the world. Otherwise there would really be no reason for God to leave us here on this earth after we committed our lives to Jesus Christ.
And in an effort to reach out and care for the community around us, a lot of well-meaning churches have tried to develop all kinds of ministries and programs to try to meet the needs of people outside the body of Christ. We’ve certainly done that here at TFC and there is nothing wrong with that approach. But, largely as a result of our journey through Ephesians, what I’m beginning to understand much better is that we’re already caring through our community through the lives of the people that God has drawn to our church.
It is amazing how well this follows up the message from last Sunday morning at the end of Ephesians where we looked at the life of Tychicus as an encouragement for all of us to be heroes of the faith. Although much of what we looked at last week applied primarily to how we relate to others in the body, those same principles can also be applied as we interact with those outside the church as well. As we’re faithful, trustworthy, involved in the lives of others and we encourage others, all of us have opportunities to care for our community.
I’m convinced that everyone in this body is caring for the community in some way. So perhaps rather than trying to initiate a whole bunch of new programs and ministries, we would be much more effective in caring for our community by coming alongside each other as partners in the work that is already going on in the lives of our church family.
For me, this began to come into much clearer focus a few months ago when Rita Ponzo shared with the “Connections” class about how she ministers to the needs of special needs students in a public school. And since that time many of you have partnered with Rita in that ministry by praying for her and by providing resources that she can use in her ministry. To me, that is so much more effective than if we decided as a church to minister to special needs kids and try to develop some program or ministry to do that.
But Rita’s situation is not unique. All of us here at TFC have some kind of opportunity to minister to those outside our body in our everyday lives. So what if we as a church could partner with all of you who are already caring for our community in some way? Over the next four weeks, we’re going to see if we can’t at least put that process into motion. As part of the messages during these four weeks, Dana and I will be sharing the personal stories of how all of you are already involved in caring for the community and encouraging others to support you in what you’re already doing.