In this post, Sam Riviera continues his series of posts on how to be the church in your community. He asks what it looks like to proclaim the Gospel to your neighbors.
Should the church proclaim the Gospel to the community? Does the church need to teach the Bible and even correct theology to the community? Are sermons and Bible studies the best way to do these things? Are they the only ways to proclaim the gospel?
We have discovered that there are other ways to proclaim the gospel to your neighbors.
How we Proclaim the Gospel
For example, today I spent the afternoon at my neighbor’s house, trimming, mowing grass, sweeping, watering and other similar chores. This neighbor has been out of town for several months, spending time with his family after the death of his wife.
Almost everyone on his block knows that my wife and I have been taking care of his house and yard while he is gone, and that we spent time with both of them on a regular basis after her cancer returned. Many of them wave as they pass us while we’re working, and some stop to talk.
Today at least a dozen neighbors drove or walked past as I worked. Several stopped to talk. I greeted them, and they asked me questions. They asked when our mutual friend is returning and how he is doing. They thanked me for helping him and keeping the house looking nice.
They asked about the Resurrection Mass for his wife after her death. They asked about the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. We discussed communion and why Catholics are so careful with the bread and wine. (I explained that some of them believe it is the body and blood of Jesus.) They asked what I think the significance of communion is. (I answered that it reminds me that God became human, walked among us and loved us so much that He died for us on the cross.)
They asked about prayer, and prayers ascending to God. They asked about why God lets bad things happen to good people like our friend. They told me that when our friends needed someone, they believe God sent us to be there for them and wondered if God will do that for others. I discussed and commented on all of these issues, issues that the neighbors wanted to discuss. Some of these people are not followers of Jesus. One told me she is a Buddhist. Then she asked more questions about Jesus and Christianity.
The pastor of the last institutional church we attended told me he doubted that more than two or three people remember much of anything from his sermons one week later. On the other hand, these neighbors are watching and listening to our “sermons” of love, are remembering and are asking questions.
There are Many Ways to Proclaim the Gospel
There are many ways to proclaim the Gospel. The good news can be taught in many forms. Sermons can be shown as well as preached.
Somewhat accidentally we have discovered that people watch, listen to, remember and want to discuss “sermons” of love, “sermons” that indeed proclaim the Gospel.
We’ve also discovered that when they’re asking us questions, they’re interested in listening to the answers. Even people of other religions don’t flinch in the slightest when I say “communion reminds me that God became human as Jesus, walked among us, and died for us on a cross” and that “we are followers of Jesus.”
Do you have examples to share of sermons of love you have “preached” or have seen or heard “preached”? Can you think of ways to proclaim the Gospel using something other than just words?
Be the Church in Your CommunityWant to be the church in your community but don't know? Here are some posts which not only explain what it means to be the church in your community, but also gives concrete, practical examples of what it looks like and how to be the church whatever you do and wherever you go. Remember, you ARE the church, and wherever you go, Jesus goes with you!
- How to Be the Church in Your Community
- The Tribe and the Church
- Church Tribes vs. the Jesus Tribe
- How to Preach the Gospel to your Neighbors
- Being the Church is Loving the Person in Front of You
- 4 Practical Suggestions for Being the Church in your Community
- Love Like Jesus by Listening to People
- Welcome New People to the Community
- Finding Jesus in Denver
- Loving Others at Walmart