Healthy Churches . . . Missionally Engaged
One of the biggest joys of my job is the opportunity I get to visit churches around the world and see the different, unique ways that they are caring for, serving, and impacting those that they are called to love. In every corner of the world, the hope of Jesus is being shared outside the walls of the church. Whether it is through the gift of clean water, by the healing hand of a doctor, in the sacredness of a classroom, or through socks and food shared with refugees, the church is finding ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
When I think about the role of the church, I see it as a place where Christians can come together and be encouraged in their walk with Jesus. The church is a place that gives us hope and animates us to do the work that Jesus has called us to do. But all too often, it’s easy for us to allow church to become the destination. Church becomes the place where we expect to be served. Church becomes the place where we expect a certain kind of music or preaching. But as I think about the power of the church, as I think about the power of the people of God, that power is not found solely within the confines of the church walls; rather, it is found as the people of God exit the building and bring Jesus with them to those whom they encounter. This engagement in mission outside the walls of the church is vital to the health of the church.
This is true for the United States, but it is especially true in those countries where sharing your faith outside the walls of a church is illegal. I think of our sisters and brothers in Pakistan or Egypt who know that sharing their faith in Jesus is done by loving and caring for their neighbors. It is done through acts of service. It is done in humility. They don’t have the legal cover to openly share the hope of Jesus through words, but their actions speak loudly.
When I recently visited the church in Pakistan, I saw the ways that they are supporting their neighbors, caring for refugees from Afghanistan, and loving people in poor communities that have been forgotten by society. They are actively showing the love of Jesus without saying a word.
In the United States it has become common for us to separate evangelism and social action. We make hard lines and demand that one not be without the other. I believe that when we truly live out the call of Jesus for us to love our neighbors, that cannot be done without both evangelism and social action. I think this separation that we make is truly a faulty one, because my social action is enveloped by my love for Jesus.
This is the beauty of the work we get to participate in. We don’t have to have all the answers, but together, with leaders from around the world, we can help churches of all kinds find ways to be Jesus in their community, ways to pursue missional engagement beyond the walls of the church.
Posted 21 December 2021