What if your church could become a catalyst for transformation in your community and throughout the world?
Your church was made for a mission—this is God's design. Jesus and His disciples modeled that the church is meant to be the place where life change and practical solutions flow out from healthy members to the world.
Here are four ways your church can reach the next level in caring for your community and ministering to communities around the globe:
- Reclaim your church's role in missions. God designed the local church to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the community. Jesus showed us His ministry priorities by caring for the sick, assisting the poor, educating the next generation and loving His neighbors. We are called to follow His model.
For many years, however, organizations and governments have taken on much of the work we consider missional—from caring for the poor in our communities to sheltering orphans overseas. While these entities are important, they alone can't create change on the scale that will truly solve the problems impacting billions around the globe. We will never have enough doctors, teachers or government workers to bring change on that broad of a scale. God commissioned the church to be the hope of the world—and it can be!
- Unleash your members to live out their passions. God has shaped each person in your church with a unique set of skills, experiences and passions. He designed them with a purpose! People are looking for ways to have significance in their lives. Part of our pastoral call is to help them uncover the way God has shaped them to serve—and we are called to equip them for maximum impact. Isn't it a huge relief to learn that as church leaders we don't have to manufacture passion in the hearts of our people? We just need to help them discover what God already created them to do.
When you help people identify an injustice that breaks their heart or paint a picture of a people group that stirs their compassion, you can inspire them to take practical action steps. Whether it's helping vulnerable children find families, promoting reconciliation, addressing opioid addiction or tackling poverty in your area, you have members in your church who are already passionate about those causes. Now you can equip them to engage in their God-given mission in the world. When ordinary Christians live out the calling God has already placed within them, God's love changes lives in the community and across the globe.
- Rethink where to find "your neighbor." In Acts 1:8b, Jesus told his followers, "And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." For these first-century disciples, Jerusalem represented their immediate neighbors, Judea represented their community and Samaria represented those living nearby but were of a different culture. When we think of mission in our churches, it's easy to focus on just one of those areas at a time, but that's not what Jesus instructed us to do! He told us to reach our Jerusalem and our Judea and our Samaria and the ends of the earth.
Through our mission model, The PEACE Plan, we've learned that the best, most sustainable way we can empower our members to reach "the ends of the earth" is to partner with local churches. Instead of trying to solve problems across the globe for people, we work with and through the local church in a two-way partnership that allows our members to come alongside those churches with education and skills training. When we focus on serving with local churches anywhere in the world, the ministry lives on long after we leave, as we make the local church the hero in the community.
- Get started. Missions can be overwhelming. Because there are so many needs, it can be tough to know where to start. But look at the encouragement Zechariah 4:10a (NLT) offers: "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." When you step out to care about what God cares about, He equips you. As Pastor Rick Warren says, "God wants his lost children found. Nothing matters more than that."
As the world gets darker, the church will shine more brightly. This is an exciting time as we are witnessing God raise up a movement of believers in the church to do what only the church can do: Spread the hope of Jesus Christ. The world can be changed for the better, but only when each of us plays the role God designed us to play.
About the PEACE Plan at Saddleback Church
Nearly 15 years ago, Saddleback Church partnered with the local churches of Rwanda to help start a movement of ordinary church members transforming their communities. This model became The PEACE Plan, a vision for unified, healthy churches serving their communities that has now inspired leaders from around the world to ask for similar movements in their countries.
One of those countries is Costa Rica, where we launched the Latin America PEACE Plan in August. Through church-to-church partnership, local lessons from one church become the building blocks passed on to other churches locally and globally, empowering average members to change their world by unleashing the unique ways they were shaped by God to make a difference.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
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