My classmate, Amy, shared a powerful story that serves as an example of how the church needs to be well led in order for that love to make it to the community.
Amy had been attending a church for several years when she decided that she wanted serve others. Instead of having the freedom for Amy to raise her hand, say she wanted to serve others, and be put to work, Amy instead had to go through an intense administrative process. She needed to fill out pages of paperwork for the church explaining what she wanted to do and why. Then she was required to meet with an associate pastor to go over her paperwork and discuss her desire to serve. Then she was required to wait for a phone call back from church about where she would be allowed to serve.
That call never came.
As a result, Amy visited another church where she again raised her hand saying that she wanted to offer her time to serve and help others who are in need. Immediately she was informed of several projects and initiatives the church already had in place, and she was allowed to pick the one she would like to give her time to. Amy currently spends time every week at a local school tutoring elementary school kids and teaching them good values. Amy’s story shows the power of a well led church that has given its members the freedom to show God’s love to others.
Amy showing that love is exactly what we are called to do to our community: show Jesus’ love to others. Back to Van Gelder’s book, The Essence of the Church, where he informs us of what the church should look like to the outside the community by saying that, “The church is to demonstrate a new lifestyle before the world, one that breaks the cycle of anger, reaction, and revenge that characterizes the world’s practices. The core of this lifestyle is to be Christian service.Christians are to serve both fellow believers and unbelievers, even when they are hostile and mistreat us.” Sometimes listening to others and serving them means we will have to sacrifice our time, attention, and money.
But if the church encourages us to get out and meet with people to show love, and the church equips us to do that, then it is the right thing to do in Jesus’ name. I do not know of any other activity or more important task of a member of the church than to talk with others about Jesus. There are many people in our communities who are lost, hurting, and who do not know Jesus. It is up to us to find ways to get out there to talk with people about Jesus because if our church is going to be effective in reaching the people in our neighborhood, talking with them is the core practice in making that happen.
As we have studied what it means to be an effective church today from the book of Acts and other examples, let us wrap up our time with the story after the story. The story after the story is that the early church, led by twelve men who had no priestly training or authority, went out to spread the good news of Jesus to the entire known world at that time. They traveled by road and boat, they taught in Temples and homes, and they fostered the growth of the early church to what it now is today: Christianity as the largest religion in the world. Because these men led their church well, focused on delivering solid Biblical teaching, and gave others ways to show God’s love, they helped to create what we now know as modern Christianity.
Graham, Billy. Storm Warning (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 164.
Henry, Matthew. “Acts.” In The Definitive Bible Commentary, edited by Owen Collins, 1154-1184. London: HarperCollinsReligious, 1999.
NLT Study Bible. Carol Stream, Il: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998.
Stanley, Andy. “When Less is More.” Lecture, Catalyst West Conference at Mariners Church, Orange County, CA, April 23, 2010.
Roxburgh, Alan J. and M. Scott Boren. Introducing the Missional Church: What it is, Why it Matters, How to Become One. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2009.
Van Gelder, Craig. The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000.
 Amy Berger, conversation with author, Fresno, CA, June 23, 2011.
 Craig Van Gelder, The Essence of the Church: A Community Created by the Spirit (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 153.