3 Reasons Why Christians May Want to Consider Serving The Poor

Among Christians lately there seems to be a debate (shocking I know) of what is most important: sharing the Gospel (evangelism) or showing the Gospel (social action).

As of March 5, 2012 at 9:07 am…this is where I land….

First, we should stop debating this, and second, we shouldn’t prioritize these as separate because in the Gospel they come together.

Simply put, if we truly believe that “Jesus Christ is Lord” we will both talk about Jesus, and live to see his kingdom come. We will both “share” and “show” the Gospel.

One of the best ways we can “show” the Gospel in our cities, communities, and neighborhoods is in our service and love for the poor. If you are a Christian here are 3 reasons you may want to consider serving the poor:

1 WE ALREADY KNOW WHAT JESUS DID

That’s right, we don’t have to wonder “what would Jesus do?” because we already know what he did; he came not to be served, but to serve….” (Mathew 20:26-28) 

If Jesus is the head of the Church (he is), and Jesus came not to be served but to serve, then it seems like a pretty good idea for his Church to be known for their servanthood.

If you follow Jesus you have more reason to be a servant in your community than anybody on the planet.

2 YOU WANT TO BE A “GOOD NEIGHBOR” (don’t you?)

Jesus broke it down for us when he said that it all hangs on 2 things: love God with everything AND love your neighbor as yourself (paraphrase Mathew 22:37-40)…..which begs the question: who is my neighbor?

That’s the same question that Jesus answered in Luke 10:25-37 in the story known as the good Samaritan.

Basically, Jesus taught that being a good neighbor was to be like a guy who provided medical care, transportation, housing, money, and showed compassion to his…..enemy.

Yep. maybe this whole “love your neighbor” thing is going to cost us a bit more than we like….

3 LET YOUR KINGDOM COME

Not only is this a great song by my friend Aaron (I know…I’m such a name dropper) but when the church lives a life together of service to the poor in our cities, we are a foretaste of the kingdom that is to come.

We feed the hungry because we belong to a kingdom where one day there will be no hunger.

We serve orphans because we belong to a kingdom where none will be fatherless.

We comfort the hurting because we belong to a kingdom where one day there will be no more tears.

So there are 3 reasons why if we follow Jesus we may want to consider serving the poor…

As a bonus….here is a bad reason for doing the same thing:

1 TO BE A “GOOD CHRISTIAN”

Don’t serve the poor to earn Gods favor…it won’t work.

Besides, In Christ you already have his favor…so stop trying to earn what is already yours. Grace is better than you think it is.

RESOURCES

Tim Keller’s “Generous Justice”

Brandon Hatmaker’s “Barefoot Church”

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Don’t Start Missional Communities

Everybody that starts a church wants it to grow fast. (yes…even us “missional community” guys)

Some of the reasons are good, like “I just want more people to know the grace of God that can only be found in Christ Jesus”. (that’s a dang good reason)

Some of the reasons are probably jacked up, like “I just want to be a famous pastor, have a comfy income, get invited to speak at conferences with other famous pastors, get 436 re-tweets of my deepest thoughts, and write a book that makes mamma proud and Joel Osteen nervous”. (for the record….I am sure those things are great…but likely make poor motivations)

But let’s be honest: very few people ever born can communicate like Matt Chandler, think like Time Keller, or dress like this guy. (don’t click the “this guy” link….don’t do it….I warned you)

The reality is that most of us will struggle to make ends meet, never get invited to speak anywhere, our blogs won’t become bestsellers, and our churches…if they grow….will grow slow.

If you want your church to grow fast, DON’T START “MISSIONAL COMMUNITIES”!

In my experience (yes…all 3 years) Missional Community driven churches grow painfully slow…and here is one reason why….

People really just want to be left alone.

What I mean is that most of us Americans who grew up on a steady diet of consumerism and individualism just want a “spiritual buzz” on Sundays.

We don’t want to be known, challenged, and we certainly don’t want to be taught that following Jesus happens 7 days a week….we don’t have time for that.

So if you want to start something that grows fast here is what I think might work…

Start a weekly meeting that features a good looking and talented singer (4 songs max), teach a short ‘spiritual message” that never talks about the cost of following Jesus, and tell people that you will see them next week.

Whatever you do….don’t start missional communities.


missional community | formerly known as following Jesus

I am part of a “missional community….I think?

Others would call it something like:

*a city group

*a gospel community

*a gospel community on mission

*a life group

*a community group

*a parish

*a family of servant missionaries

*an awkward group of Christians

And the list goes on and on…you get the point.

But what are we all talking about? What is a “missional community”?

It seems that Christians everywhere are starting to notice that something is wrong: that our experience of “church” does not look much like the “church” we read about in our Bibles:

A diverse community of people who are perfectly loved by Jesus, who are learning to follow him and to love one another and their neighbors.

In fact when we say the word “church” in America many things come to mind:

*a meeting on Sunday morning where a guy with a “faux hawk” does 4 or 5 bad covers of Hillsong United songs (guilty as charged)

*a building where their parents forced them to go to a flannel graph lesson on Sundays and a cold lasagna dinner on Wednesday nights

*a television preacher who tells them if they will send in a check that God wants to “bless them” with a fat bank account

*a 45 minute message from an excited preacher who thinks he is funnier and more insightful than he really is….who probably could have said the same thing in 20…..(guilty as charged)

On top of that some people just get mad when they hear the word “church” because it is a place where they have felt judged and rejected….not to mention that they blame us for the fact that Chick Fila is closed on Sundays.

Whatever people think when they hear the word “church”, they probably aren’t thinking:

A diverse community of people who are perfectly loved by Jesus, who are learning to follow him and to love one another and their neighbors.

I am coming to the conclusion that words like “missional community” exist because maybe we have given up on just calling it what it is: being “the Church”…formerly known as following Jesus.

Instead of redefining and recovering the power and beauty of those words…..

It might just be easier to start from scratch……and start “missional communities”.

So I am curious on your thoughts:

What do you call your “missional communities”?

And why?