“The 3 Most Important Things the Church Can Do in 2013”
Focus: Create more programs that meet the everyday needs of people
When I evaluate what three things that the church needs to do in 2013 I would argue that we need to go back to the fundamentals of our divine example and take the prescriptions of ministry that Jesus left behind for us to follow and apply them to our current flow of ministry in the 21st century. Jesus basic argument and the example that he used was demonstrated in three specific areas of ministry: meeting the spiritual needs of people, meeting the physical needs of people and meeting the fellowship or intimate needs of people. What I will do in this article is to translate what Jesus did in his time into what our modern church can look at and repeat them today.
The Church Meeting The Spiritual Needs of People:
Psalms 51:5 it says “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me”; I would argue from this verse that every persons soul is totally depraved and with that in mind we all need spiritual regeneration and for those who are in the church or those who are seeking God the desire for that need to be meet is intense and it is the responsibility for the church to create and cultivate an atmosphere where people can worship God, know God and have their ultimate spiritual desire which is to be and feel forgiven of their sins meet.
Throughout scripture Jesus gives us this example in his ministry countless times and he shows us as his church how to do it. In Matthew 19: 16-30, Mark 10:17-31 and Luke 18:18-30 we read the accounts of the story of the ‘Rich Young Ruler’ who was a God- seeker and had a spiritual need that he wanted and desired to be meet. What we learn from this young man is several lessons that our modern day culture and modern day people can relate too. It didn’t matter how much money he had or his success he wanted what we all want and was asking the question that we all ask and that is ‘what does it take to be saved?’. Today we see that question asked is various forms ‘what is my life’s calling’ or ‘how do I reach my highest potential’; regardless of how we phrase the question the underline motive is the same: it’s what must I do to have my spiritual thirst quenched. A vital lesson we as the church learn from this parable is what we can take away from Jesus; Jesus made people of all backgrounds feel safe and comfortable to come to him. History tells us and many theologians would argue that this man came to Jesus in the quiet of the night indicating the possibility that maybe he didn’t want others to know who he was going to see or where he was going; or maybe it was shame that made him come at night, whatever the Rich Young Rulers reasons were at least he came and knew where to go. Many modern day people can relate to this as well, going to church and sitting in the back row, or coming late and leaving early, or to ashamed to go to church so they decide to watch it on television; Just like the rich young ruler modern people at least know to come to Jesus because he can answer their questions.
Mark 10: 21 “ Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” What Jesus gives the Rich Young Ruler and what we need to give todays church goers and seekers is the biblical truth in love to the questions that they ask. In order to fulfill your spiritual needs you must be sacrificial with your entire life, from your possession to your daily walk. What Jesus is teaching us to do in our ministries and what the church needs to do in 2013 is teach people there are no short cuts to spiritual satisfaction. Even though the rich young ruler had “followed the rules” he hadn’t “given a sacrificial heart” to Christ and others and without the death of self and following Christ a person soul cannot be regenerated. Luke 9:23 “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” the first step the church must take is giving people biblical truth to their spiritual answers.
The Church Meeting The Physical Needs Of People:
In Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:31-44, Luke 9:10-17and John 6:5-15 we see Jesus display of meeting the physical needs of his people which is known as the miracle of the five loaves of bread and two fish. As Jesus is ministering to these people he does not neglect to remember that their physical need of simply being hungry; what we fail to do in today’s church is remember that our people need to be fed, clothed and taken care; especially when they have a need that has to be meet that is out of their control. We have military service men and women in our churches that go overseas while their families are here in the states suffering and in those moments the church must step up and provide for those families. We have widows and widowers and senior adults that have physical needs as they age that the church must address because we see too many people as they grow older become lonely and depressed; most of the time the physical need to them is simple company and someone to talk to.
No matter how the church goes about addressing the issues of the physical needs of its people the issues must be addressed and handled in a bold and specific way because we are losing our people in a rapid way because they feel neglected by the church and their experience and opinions of the church are turning negative because they see glamor and not the needs of the hopeless being meet. And what we must remember is this people don’t care how much we know until they see how much we care; they’re not going to be interested in hearing about our Jesus until they see us acting like him.
The Church Meeting The Fellowship/ Intimate Needs Of The People:
An untreated wound has no chance of getting better until the proper steps are taken to fix it. Most of the sins and problems we see in our culture in and out of the church at one point started off small but because of neglect many of them have grown and become out of control and unmanageable. What the church must take action in doing is that when we see the beginnings of sin forming then we must address the issues then and we must address it in a loving and kind way and not in a judgmental and self-serving way. I believe the best way to accomplish this is to love people when we see them stepping off their designed plan’ “Love Me When I Least Deserve It Because That’s When I Need It The Most”.
In Luke 19:1-10 we find the story of Zacchaeus who was a superintendent of customs also known as the chief tax collector. He was a hated man in his small community of Jericho and everyone knew him personally or by name because he was wealthy and he would cheat people on their taxes and over charge them and pocket the money for himself. As deceptive as he was and as sneaky as he was there was something about the rabbi Jesus that pierced his heart and made him intrigued to find out more about him so when Jesus came into his down he climbed up in a fig tree just to get a glimpse of who he was.
The church must become like Jesus was to sinners and that is attractive to the point that people are desperate to come to us; Zacchaeus the cheating tax collector was willing to climb up in a tree and risk breaking his neck just to take a glimpse at seeing Jesus. When sinners demonstrate a passion for truth the church must be willing to provide a space for them to be fulfilled.
Luke 19: 5-10When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly .All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount. “Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
What we see in these verses Jesus ministry displayed by several actions that the church needs to take note and account of: First he calls him by name; most people in our churches today think that they are only a number or a member and the personal satisfaction of knowing you are known has been lost. Second he fellowships with him at his home showing us that sometimes we must meet people on their terms or in their comfort zone whatever that looks like to them; we must decrease so Christ can increase so the lost can be saved. And last Jesus took the man as he was in his sin and that reaction caused the man to change his life. The action of Christ love caused the reaction of repentance; Romans 2:4 “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
When we meet peoples spiritual needs and questions we give them tangible hope that helps them to hold onto their faith in times of trials and difficulty. People want to be heard, known and accepted not just tolerated and when we apply the examples of Jesus Christ in our churches we will adapt an inviting spirit for more people to come.
Conclusion: My Thoughts
Every person knows indescribable pain and hurt that breaks the heart and weakens the knees of the souls of our spirits and that is why every person needs to know and experience God in a divine way, but we as the church are called to be his ambassadors; and just like ushers in our local churches we must usher people into their seat in the presence of the king but we must first connect with him and his teachings in order to do so. Its not up to us to judge or to try and figure out all the specifics we simply must be willing to do what he says and that is to ‘follow’.
Matthew 28:16-20 “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”