Words in Due Season…

A Socially Relevant Church

The purpose of the church is summarised in Mark 16:15, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

And so the church throughout its history had focused on exactly that: preaching the gospel throughout the world. Hence the stream of missionaries and evangelists gracing the annals of time and spreading the good news of salvation in Christ Jesus even today.

But we notice something very interesting about the church in the pages of its long history. The church had built orphanages, schools and had even been governing nations in ancient times.

It seems that even in its infancy the church had found that preaching the gospel cannot be done without getting involved in the needs of society. It’s as if time had proven to the church fathers that you cannot bring good news to the needy without making that news relevant to their needs.

And so we see that the church had learned through experience that preaching the gospel involves becoming socially relevant.

This is consistent with the will of God taught in the Scriptures.

James 1:27, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction…

  • Widows and orphans refer to vulnerable groups of people in society.
  • This verse of Scripture gives us a standard by which to measure spirituality.  We are not spiritual or religious because we adhere to whatever expected Christian standards we impose, but our religion is honoured by God when we care for the vulnerable and those in need!

Pastors and church leaders should not see the church as a lofty club for transformed and better people but rather as a transformation station and as a force to transform the world by ministering to the needs in our local communities and beyond through Jesus Christ and for His sake.

My spiritual father and mentor once told me, what you see in the service on Sunday morning is the result of everything we do as a church during the week! Our Sunday celebration and attendance is only the product of our social relevance throughout the week!

The church is a hospital, a clinic, a rehabilitation centre, a victim support centre, a support group and so much more. And the church is all that in the Name of Jesus Christ, for His glory and the world’s good!

The challenge of churches is to grow up quickly, come into their own, to the place where a congregation knows who they are, what their purpose is, their administration sorted out, and their structures outlined and working, and all departments are relevant and distinct, so that the church can concentrate on what is truly important: PREACHING THE GOSPEL and in the process becoming socially relevant.

  • Unfortunately, so many churches still struggle to come to terms with who they are and who each other is within the church, who needs to get paid and who not, who should be the leader and who not, and we never grow to the place where we can function as a well-oiled machine, a healthy body, ready to be about our Father’s business!

See, being socially relevant, is about people. Ministering to real people; helping real people. And to do this effectively we don’t need an exegesis on New Testament proof that the church should be socially relevant. What we need is a biblical understanding of God’s heart regarding people.

  • First of all, God made people.
  • And He made us like Himself!
  • And sin destroyed us, our families, our health, our qualities of life, and so much more.
  • And God had literally gone out of His way, to help us!

And the Bible has this to say about the needy: Psa_72:12  For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.

Isa_41:17  When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

Leaders of churches need to take another look at what we perceive our mandate to be as a church. A man may have a specific calling, but that man is part of the church. And the church has a very specific calling: the gospel to the whole world. And you cannot preach the gospel without becoming socially relevant!

These are your call-up instructions. And the time to report for duty has already passed. But you can still get involved!

He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the church!

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