Reaching Your City for Christ through Service
The most significant work of spreading the gospel in the New Testament was accomplished in various kinds of cities. In their important book, “To Transform a City,” Eric Swanson and Sam Williams state:
Paul’s letters in the New Testament are addressed to cities — To the church at Rome, Philippi, Ephesus, and other cities of Asia Minor. Though there were many house “churches” in each of those cities, Paul wrote to them as one church, addressing his teaching to the broader context of the city and not just to individual congregations.
The fact that churches and cities are inseparable in Scripture lets us know that cities should be important to us as well. But where do we start when reaching our cities for Christ?
Reaching your city for Christ starts with good deeds toward the community
When your church decides to make community service a priority, a very important door is opened for the non-believers who are serving shoulder-to-shoulder with believers. This is the door of good deeds. When others see your church show up week after week (not just occasionally or sporadically), they become convinced that “these church people” are genuinely serious about making a difference in the city.
This co-laboring and cooperation naturally lead to conversations about life, family, past experiences – any of which the Lord can and often does use as opportunities to introduce your church and/or yourself as a Christian. This can often make an important connection in the minds of others – it connects good deeds to good will toward Christians and the church.
Reaching your city for Christ continues with good will toward the church
There’s something special about working alongside someone when they discover you’re a Christian. Whatever views they had about Christianity before; whatever hurt they’ve experienced from churches in the past; they cannot deny what they’re seeing before them now. This begins the process of connecting the good deeds they’re seeing with goodwill toward those doing them.
As mentioned above, this doesn’t happen overnight or with occasional or sporadic involvement. But when your church is consistently involved in community service projects with other dedicated and unchurched volunteers, the good deeds / good will cycle has a much greater chance of taking hold. And this is very important because good will leads to Good News.
Reaching your city for Christ culminates with Good News
We all have a built-in desire to listen to other people whom we respect and admire. It’s also no secret that hard work and co-laboring is respectable and admirable across all cultures. God designed us this way so that we would co-labor with others in pursuit of sharing the gospel. However, we often make the mistake of only limiting this to co-laboring with other Christians. We so often forget that co-laboring in service with non-Christians is one of the most effective ways to open doors to the Good News of Jesus Christ.
When it comes to reaching our cities for Christ, time and time again the formula laid out in this article has been proven successful: Good deeds alongside others in the city leads to good will toward the church, which leads to opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
The best part of the formula above is that you can begin implementing it today … now. Simply reach out to a few others in your church, find a local community service opportunity in your city, and make a plan to volunteer and serve consistently for the next six months. See what God does as you shine your light before others so that they may eventually glorify your Father in heaven!
1. ACTS, and Expositional Commentary, James Montgomery Boice
PO Box 703929
Dallas, TX 75370-3929