If there is one thing we can learn from the history of the early church, it’s this: Without seminaries, church growth seminars, elaborate youth programs, large campuses, and giant screens with multi-media presentations, the church still grew at a phenomenal rate.
Because the early Christians lived in such a way that caused the world to stand up and take notice! They had a distinctive lifestyle that couldn’t be ignored–it was compelling.
Living with selfless abandon gets everyone’s attention. Then and now.
You might have noticed…people don’t like to be ‘evangelized.’ They don’t automatically think our truths are their truths. They won’t show up at our church gatherings to hear our ideas and they can’t stand it when we push them to accept our concepts. Yet one truth always remains, people will always be drawn to good news when they see it in action. Though they may not understand everything, GOOD NEWS…is always GOOD NEWS when it touches down in real life.
Good deeds are things the community needs, God desires, and the church has always done.
What does a community care about?
Even though a community may not know that it should care about salvation, it does have needs. And when Christians meet those needs alongside their neighbors, meaningful relationships develop. Ripe out of those relationships grow endless opportunities to share what being saved really looks like. Read these words from Rick Rusaw from his book Externally Focused Church:
The Christian faith, for the most part, has been reduced to a philosophy–principles and tenets that we believe and can defend but don’t necessarily practice. It is our actions towards others that separate Christianity from philosophy. It is tying loving God to loving our neighbors as ourselves that puts legs to our faith. So, let’s be radicals and practice our religion.
As a USA Today survey revealed, when non-Christians were asked what Christians should be doing in the world, they responded with two top choices:
- Feed the hungry
- Take care of the poor.
Even non-Christians believe that a Christian’s life should have an outward expression, putting its faith into practice and acting a lot like Jesus would.
What do good deeds done by believers accomplish?
Good deeds done by believers genuinely demonstrate the love of God, glorify God, and validate the Good News.
When the communists took over Russia in 1917, they vigorously persecuted the church but did not make Christianity illegal–the Constitution of 1918 guaranteed freedom of religion. But, the Communists did make it illegal for Christians to do any good works. Consequently, the church could no longer feed the hungry or take care of the sick or the orphaned. The state took over those duties.
What was the result? After 70 years, the church in Russia was irrelevant.
It would seem that what author Eric Swanson wrote is true:
Take away service, and you take away the church’s power, influence, and evangelistic effectiveness. The power of the gospel is combining its life-changing message with selfless service.
Q Place National Church Partnership Director