“What will we use for an invitation this year? It should be appealing and relevant with strong gospel content because they may never attend the meeting.” Someone else says: “But if too much is said they may not attend. Whet their appetite.”
The effort is planned, the invitations are distributed and meetings start. We watch the door hoping to see visitors come, but we are disappointed.
Does it sound familiar? And it doesn’t just happen once. The cycle so often repeats itself! What critical part is missing in our testimony in the community?
An elderly couple served us a fine meal in their condo. They had attended some gospel meetings. The hostess asked us, “Other than invite people inside your church doors to preach about heaven and hell, can you name one good thing your church has done for people out in the community over the past year?” She zeroed in on a critical deficiency. Many assemblies are baffled over their inability to see people from the community won to Christ. They have meetings. But where are the people? “Well, if God doesn’t bring them in, there’s nothing else we can do.” Really?
Aristide defended the first century Christians to the Roman Emperor by describing them this way: “They love one another. They never fail to help widows; they save orphans from those who would hurt them, If they have something, they give freely to the man who has nothing; if they see a stranger, they take him home, and are happy, as though he were a real brother.” That’s exactly the light the Lord intended us to be in the community.
Are we known locally as the kindhearted people who love to help those in need? If our good words are going to have much impact in the community, they will have to be preceded by the testimony of our good works out in the community, beyond the walls of our buildings. We focus on getting them in. The real need is for us to get out.
Good works should never be a calculated strategy to achieve visibility before a gospel series or to increase attendance. It’s not a technique to employ because we have too many seats empty. We were saved to do good works. (Ephesians 2:10) Doing good is an end in itself. It’s our purpose. It should be our way of life. For the Lord Jesus, it was the continual out-flowing of His caring heart of love. “Jesus of Nazareth…who went about doing good” (Acts 10:38).
Good works take more than money. It takes time to earn respect and nurture relationships. It is easier to donate money than it is to sacrifice our time and to show heart. But it’s the heart that will touch our communities. Good works outside our walls should be a vital part of our lives and assembly testimony. When will things change? That will only be when our purpose for living is aligned with the Lord’s purpose for saving us.