An Effective Church (part 4)

August 25, 2011

In addition to the church working hard to teach its current believers, another important role of the church is to find ways to share the gospel with others who are not currently believing or practicing Christians.

Again, let’s go back to chapter six of Acts where it shows us how the combination of a well led church with solid Bible teaching allows God’s love to be shown to the community. This early church shows us how we are able to reach out to the community and serve when the people already in the church have been correctly taught and equipped. Because of that taking place, the 12 apostles were able to quickly chose seven men who could fill the need to feed the widows.

Since the apostles were so strongly preaching and teaching, they were able to delegate to someone else the responsibility of taking care of the Greek-speaking believers and Hebrew-speaking believers. I realize that in this passage those widows were probably already part of the church, but the principle applies more generally. Someone who has been equipped and is able to serve people within the church can just as easily do the same for someone outside the church. We can sum up this entire story with verse 7 which says, “So God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too.”[1] Because the leaders of the early church were smart and disciplined enough to know they needed to do what only they could do, they were able to delegate the work of feeding the widows to seven other men who were just as capable (if not more than the apostles) of doing the job.

A key element of the church is to have the systems and processes in place so members have the freedom to listen to others and tell them about Jesus. The church should be structured with freedom for its members to do good works and use their gifts. And the essence of church members showing God’s love to the community starts with a simple act of listening to lost and hurting people in our neighborhood. When writing about what it means to be an effective church in our own neighborhood, Alan Roxburgh and M. Scott Boren believe, “. . . the real work involves sitting with the people, listening to their stories, and entering their world with an open mind and heart—not bringing predetermined decisions and goals to the table.”[2]

Listening to lost and hurting people needs to be the first thing that we do. People do not want easy answers to the difficult questions they are dealing with and confused by. People want a friend who will listen to them and know them for who they are.[3] As we have already learned, it takes teaching and equipping church members for them to know that they cannot always walk up to a stranger in Wal-Mart, share the story of Jesus, and expect to have a confession right there. Through solid teaching and equipping, church members will know how to become friends with others as a way to evangelize and live with them in community regardless of their differences. During or after listening to lost and hurting people, church members can show God’s love to them by offering assistance with food, free or low-cost counseling, vacation Bible school for their kids, or a health clinic for the homeless. But again, this all wraps back to our first point of the church needing to be well led to allow this to happen.

[1] Acts 6:7

[2] Alan Roxburg and M. Scott Boren, Introducing the Missional Church: What it is, Why it Matters, How to Become One (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009), 86.

[3] Ibid. 84


Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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