How is a church supposed to be involved in a community?
What if a church were to do yard clean-ups this fall and rake leaves for free to anyone who asked? What if they were to put on free dinners for the homeless, go as a group to the public school events, and give an obscene amount of money to those in need? What if we offerred free tutoring for school kids and started a free preschool and free Daycare for working parents?
What if we took polls throughout the community and asked all 600 or so residents of Vanderbilt how the Community Church could minister to them and then as much as possible began meeting these needs?
Doesn't that sound like a great idea?
While those seem worthwhile in and of themselves, those methods lack one crucial component.
In the Bible, four friends brought their sick friend to Jesus. When the house Christ was in was too full, they climbed up on the roof and let their friend into the house by lowering him in on ropes. When Jesus sees the faith of these men He says something quite fascinating.
He tells the man, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."
This story in Mark 2 illustrates for us an important truth in Christianity. Man's greatest need is to have his sins forgiven. The purpose of the church is to glorify God by carrying out the great commission. Which states, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Matthew 28
Public service and meeting peoples needs is indeed a requirement of the church. Charity, feeding the hungary and warming the poor are essential ministries of the church. But we cannot stop there, we meet the physical needs of people so that we might meet their greater need of hearing obeying the gospel. The need to have their sins forgiven. We meet this need by proclaiming the gospel. Through the things we do and through the message we preach. We call this message the good news or the gospel.
I am all for community service and think our church should be aggressive in our efforts. But if we are only salt and never shine the light, we are not fulfilling the our commission.