How Your Church Can Change the World
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 6 Jun
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jimmy Seibert’s new book Passion & Purpose: Believing the Church Can Still Change the World (Clear Day Publishing, 2014).
What do you plan to do the next time you’re in church? Listening to a sermon, singing songs, praying, and talking with other believers are all noble activities. But God intends for church to be much more than just a local place to find inspiration; Gods wants it to be a place where He empowers people to join Him in the work of redeeming this fallen world.
If you approach church as a place to passionately pursue Jesus and devote yourself to fulfilling His purposes—like the people of the early church did—then you and your church can be a part of changing the world for the better. Here’s how:
Love your neighbors as a way of loving Jesus. Jesus said that two goals summarize what’s most important in life: 1) loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and 2) loving your neighbors as much as you love yourself. Those two commands are meant to work together; so, don’t try to separate them. Every day, aim to do your best loving the people around you (both fellow believers and people who are spiritually lost) as a way of expressing your love for God. When you pursue this along with others in your church community, you can transform whole neighborhoods for the better. Get to know your neighbors’ real needs without making assumptions about what those needs are. Then develop friendships with your neighbors so you can walk alongside them as the Holy Spirit guides you all to meet needs and solve problems together.
Rely on the Holy Spirit to empower you every day. Instead of trying to do ministry work out of your own limited abilities, make a habit of inviting the Holy Spirit to work through you as you minister to people through your church. Read the book of Acts in the Bible and notice the different ways that the Holy Spirit showed up among early church members. Pray for the Spirit to show up in your own life and church in the same ways. Surrender every part of your life completely to God to prepare yourself for the adventures the Spirit wants to lead you to pursue.
Fight fear. Whenever you feel afraid, ask God to give you the faith you need to overcome that fear and move forward in whatever ways you sense Him leading you to take action. Keep in mind that God promises to be with you every step of the way on the adventures he has planned for you—so, just do what’s next and trust Him to keep guiding you. Expect that God will compensate for your own weaknesses by giving you the strength you need to do whatever He calls you to do—from giving financially to support your church’s mission work to volunteering for your church’s service projects.
Grow closer to God through spiritual disciplines. Practicing spiritual disciplines each day will strengthen your connection with God and keep it consistently growing, which will prepare you well to serve others through your church. Make prayer your first priority each morning after you wake up. Read, study, think about, and apply the Bible’s wisdom every day. Fast regularly as you seek God. Share the Gospel message with the people you encounter each day. Help new believers grow in their faith. Create a lifestyle of service in the context of your church’s community.
Let your brokenness motivate you to rely on yourself less and on God more. Invite God to use the brokenness in your life to prepare you to be used the fullest in His kingdom. Choose to humbly submit to God’s work in you; when you do, there is no limit to what He can do through you for the world around you. Your biggest past struggles can become your greatest areas of future ministry.
Open your heart and your hands. Be willing to give your resources (time, money, energy, talent, etc.) whenever God calls you to use them to serve others through your church. Choose to obey God, no matter what it costs you to do so. Trust God’s promise to take care of your own needs when you faithfully give to others in need.
Pursue revival from the inside out. When you pursue personal revival, you position yourself for God to use you in a revival of your entire community. Confess your sins regularly to God in prayer, and repent of them by doing whatever God shows you it takes to be free of them in the future. Study the Bible to find verses that relate to the specific types of sin for which you’re repenting. Then absorb those biblical truths into your mind, replacing previous wrong thinking about those issues, renouncing evil, and asking God to establish a new pattern of faithful attitudes and actions in those areas of your life.
Ask God to dream His dreams through you and your church. Pray that God would work through you and other people at your church to accomplish goals that He is thinking about in heaven and wants to get done through faithful vessels on Earth. As each of you do your part, more of God’s purposes on Earth will be fulfilled.
Establish strong foundations for ministry at your church and all new church plants. Encourage everyone in your congregation—from children to senior citizens—to pursue ministry work however God leads them to do so. Set aside at least 20 percent of the church budget for missions. Emphasize teamwork, in which the individual contributions of everyone—whether staff member or volunteer—are equally valuable. Urge the people in your church to pray together regularly for the church’s mission work. Establish solid processes to train, equip, and evaluate people who want to join your church’s mission work.
Help transform your spheres of influence. Join God in His work changing people’s lives beyond your church’s congregation. Let your witness and service extend beyond your church to impact people in all of your various spheres of influence. Ask God to give you specific opportunities to help change the lives of people with whom you have relationships through societal areas like: neighborhood, business, medical, social justice, arts, politics, sports, and education.
Adapted from Passion & Purpose: Believing the Church Can Still Change the World, copyright 2014 by Jimmy Seibert. Published by Clear Day Publishing, a division of Clear Day Media Group, Brentwood, TN, www.cleardaypublishing.com.
Jimmy Seibert is the senior pastor of Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, as well as the founder and president of Antioch Ministries International (AMI). He has served the Antioch church in that role since its establishment in 1999. Jimmy is passionate about loving God and making Him known in all the earth. He and his wife, Laura, have been involved in training and sending out church planters for more than 26 years, seeing hundreds of Christians go to the mission field. Under their leadership Antioch Community Church has grown and impacted Waco, Texas, and planted 70 churches in the United States and around the world. Jimmy and his wife, Laura, have been married for 27 years. Their children include their daughter Abby and her husband, Kyle Van Hecke, daughter Lauren, and two sons, Caleb, and Daniel.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Follow her on Twitter @WhitneyHopler.
Publication date: June 27, 2014