If pastors are serious about getting people to serve in the community, they must lead the way. I have suggested earlier that one way to show such seriousness is by cancelling one or two Sunday services per month and taking the people into the community serve others.
Such leadership-led church service in the community will show the people that church is not about entering a brick building on Sunday morning, but having a tangible presence in our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. This ultimately is what incarnation is all about, to be present among the people, not asking them to come join us in what we are doing, but to go join them in their activities and events, their sorrow and their pain, their laughter and their joy.
Follow Jesus into the world, not away from it
Too many Christians are trying to escape the world when we should be entering more fully into it. Following Jesus is not about escape. We are not here on earth to say prayers, sing songs, study the Bible, and wait for the rapture. We still have something to do. We must love and serve. We must restore peace and joy. We must announce that the morning has come, the sun has risen, the exile is over. People must be shown that God is not mad, the world is not all evil, and the kingdom is at hand. We must reveal hope, restoration, and redemption. And the only way we can reveal such things is by being present in the world with the people.
But presence is not about going where the people are so we can preach on the street corner, sing Christian songs, or hand out bottles of water with Bible verses on them. Presence is not simply being among people. Presence is sharing life with people, spending time with them, being friends for the long haul. It’s not about getting people to reform their lives so they can be accepted by us and our community. It’s about us entering fully into their lives if they will accept us into their community.
To be present with people, it is quite possible that we must change more than they. We must become more like them then ask them to become more like us. Remember Jesus, according to Philippians 2, when He entered this world, emptied Himself of nearly everything which identified Himself as God, and became fully human. Jesus did not ask us to become more like God; He became like us.
And as we enter into the world, we must do the same.
I liked the line: “Presence is sharing life with people, spending time with them, being friends for the long haul.” This has been something I’ve been thinking about lately and need to do more of in my own life. Thanks for posting this.
Jeremy Myers says
I see you posted a very similar post on your blog yesterday. We are thinking along the same lines!
Due to your comment, I found your blog, and will add you to my blogroll. Keep checking back!
Jennifer Daniel says
I agree with most of your heartfelt pleas. We as the church need to be as Apostle Paul who said he became all things to all men and he used plainness of speech. Yes we should meet the lost where they are. We are called to go out into the world and preach the gospel BUT the word also says be not conformed to this world… So are you suggesting to participate in ungodly acts? Please explain this…
Jeremy Myers says
No, we should not engage in ungodly acts. But this is different than hanging out with “ungodly” people. Jesus was a friend to tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes, but never collected taxes, sinned, or engaged in prostitution.
Enjoying this book/blog so far and find myself on a similar path all of this is pointing too because church leadership/government/style/institutionalism has never sat well with me.
But could you elaborate on this statement a little… “ Jesus did not ask us to become more like God; He became like us.
And as we enter into the world, we must do the same.”
I think I follow but we are as disciples becoming more like Jesus and so are you saying as we draw people we are seeking to “be all things?” Certainly the Lord wants to change the heart and direction of all on the path of destruction.