May 20, 2016
How Does a Christian Church Affect the Local Community?
The Christian church has always been a staple within the local community. For many the church is considered to be a beacon of hope during periods of difficulty. Some look to the church for spiritual, educational, and monetary support as well as guidance. Many years ago the first church and Christian believers played the same role as today’s modern church, bring the people together and restore hope to the hopeless by way of the Great Commission. The Christian church has been shown to affect the local community when there is collaboration among churches, competent leadership is present, and there is a genuine respect for community diversity.
The church is a divine organization whose purpose is in line with Gods plans for the people. When the Christian church extends their mission beyond the church walls (Kibler, 2015) with a desire to unite and come together in collaborative efforts each church objectives can be fulfilled with a greater effect. Unity among the churches results in a greater impact on the community through programs such as food pantries and clothes closets, counseling, educational and work programs, rehabilitative programs, senior services, and transportation programs as well. When the unified Christian churches work in conjunction with other local agencies and nonprofits, an abundance of resources is made available for the residents and that community will abound with harmony and hope for many generations. (Kelly, Azelton, Lardon, Mock, Tandon, & Thomas 2004). For example, when the church coordinates with local agencies to provide free counseling and parenting services for families in the church and within the community, this encourages those families to reach out for help and in turn strengthen the foundation of their families. Keeping families together should be a priority in the church. In communities where there is a significant number of low-income individual’s transportation present as a barrier to most services. When each church or agency works in conjunction with a transportation service that provides affordable transportation, these individuals will have access to all available services provided through collaborative efforts of the unified churches and the local agencies.
Furthermore, it is very important to develop competent leaders within the church who will support the churches mission of community stewardship. When the leadership is trained and not simply appointed their expectations are clear and the leaders are able to mentor or disciple laity within the church who have a desire to line up with the church mission as well. This will create a streamline of leadership mentoring and succession within the church. The bible reveals many leaders mentored their successors who in turn went on to complete the work that had already begun. For example, in the Old Testament: Elijah and Elisha, Moses and Joshua and in the New Testament Paul and Timothy and of course the greatest example Jesus and the Disciples. (Ngomane & Mahlangu 2014).
Just as businesses develop their leaders within the company through leadership training programs Christian churches should do the same. When the church identifies and develop young emergent leaders they will see such benefits as church outreach, community fellowship, and the building up of a strong network of church and community allies who are united for one cause. As the church continues to grow from generation to generation each new leader will be prepared to pick up the baton and finish the race. The new leader is trained to finish work that is already begun in the church and community as well (Ngomane & Mahlangu 2014).
Finally, a Christian church will have many opportunities to witness positive results when the church has a genuine respect for community diversity, meaning there is an openness and respect for every culture and the many differences without judging. It is very important to develop leaders who will stand on the word of God and face secular issues within the church and the community head on with the understanding that diversity is a gift from God. Developing the community relationships is a very important step for the Christian church. The process of collaboration would not be successful without it, therefore, it is in the best interest of the church not to try to convert non believers to be like them and simply be open to the world and its culture with a non judgmental mind. (Wong,2008)
The Christian church can affect the local community when the church come together as one, build a strong leadership that transcends generations, and are mindful of diversity within the community. Unity is the key factor in fulfilling purpose, for where there is unity hope abounds This definition of the word unity from the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, 2015 speaks volumes. Unity: a way of combining the parts in a work of art or literature so that they seem to belong together. Therefore, with God being the creator, mankind is the parts that make up His work of art and each person’s life on Earth is written as a role in His story.
Kibler III, R. F. (2015). Reflections on The Church: Towards a Common Vision. Journal Of Ecumenical Studies, 50(2), 299-302
Kelly, J. G., Azelton, L., Lardon, C., Mock, L. O., Tandon, S. D., & Thomas, M. (2004). On Community Leadership: Stories About Collaboration in Action Research. American Journal Of Community Psychology, 33(3/4), 205-216 12p.
: Ngomane, R. M., & Mahlangu, E. (2014). Leadership mentoring and succession in the Charismatic churches in Bushbuckridge. Hervormde Teologiese Studies, 70(1), 1-10. doi:10.4102/hts.v70i1.2065
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2015 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated Merriam-Webster Online (www.Merriam-Webster.com)
WONG, K. M. (2008). CHRISTIANS OUTSIDE THE CHURCH: AN ECCLESIOLOGICAL CRITIQUE OF VIRTUAL CHURCH. Heythrop Journal, 49(5), 822-840. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2265.2008.00401.x