House church Organic church Simple Church Social impact

Can we have a social impact?

The Lord has been challenging me over the last couple of weeks.

It started a couple of weeks ago when I went to Exponential–not so much the conference itself (which was good) but through some of the stories I heard. I went straight from there to a conference run by the San Antionio Baptist Association where Tony and I were speaking on the principles of simple/organic church.  God is doing some amazing things through the people involved there. Again, the stories were captivating.

Let me give you a some examples:

There is a network of organic churches in California that looked at the problems their city faced and found that homelessness was a major issue. As they prayed about it, they sensed God wanted them to tackle the problem. Their involvement has reduced homelessness by 25% but more than that, has involved them in all kinds of projects like teaching life skills, interview techniques etc., as well as housing and job creation. They have come to the attention of the city council and the local social services. They are making a social impact on their city.

Another network of house churches, this time in Colorado, asked their local middle school what they could do to help. The answer surprised them. They needed bicycle helmets. When they met that need, other needs surfaced. The result, 18 months or so down the line, is that they are working with the social services in their city in all kinds of different areas. Twenty-five of them from their network of churches leads a group of around 200 volunteers, many of whom are not Christians, to meet the needs of their city. They have all kinds of opportunities to introduce people to Jesus. The social service department often calls them when they have a crisis. Again, they are friends with the mayor, the city council and others in authority in their city. They too are having a social impact.

A third example is a group who the Lord led to work with kids in the poorest section of their city, an area of predominantly federal housing. They started kids clubs and now have more than 500 kids, aged 5-18, involved. What these kids need most is parents. They find themselves going to court with these kids when they get into trouble, visiting the schools with them when there are disciplinary problems, working with the families. Recognized all through the area where they work because of their yellow shirts, they have access to many of the families in the area and are leading many to Christ. Social impact yet again.

What can God do with a group of people who make themselves available to him for their city?

What stories are you aware of?


7 replies on “Can we have a social impact?”

One of the arguments I’ve heard against organic/simple churches is that they are not visible in the community. I guess these stories put that myth to bed. Thanks for sharing.

At my church — — adoption and foster care has a long history. Last year we started a 5k run and auction that raised $12,000 that helped one couple bring home a child from Ethiopia and two other families adopt children through the local foster care system. This June we’re holding a workshop on Adoption 101 to help introduce people to adoption and answer their questions and hopefully will raise even more money. On Facebook, search for Adoption 101 or Forever Families to get more details. We hope people will be able to donate or bid online this year for the auction.

I often think about what I can do for the issues in my community and I suppose the important principle is to do something. It doesnt have to be big and organised like creating an ministry for this or that need. Its really observing the little things. I was talking to a mother who lives in poorer area of our city and all she does is have he daughters friends over after school. Their parents are off working, being busy etc and so they come home to an empty lonely house. She listens to these kids, and is like a mum to them. She has found a simple way of being Christ in her community and something is coming alive in as she sees how God is using her to connect with some very lonely teens.
A really good book, especially for you American’s is Faith Works by Jim Wallis.
Cheers from Down Under and to the right

Dan and Barry, thank you for sharing these examples. I’m sure there are many creative ideas out there for things we could do, and as we showcase these examples, others will gain a vision for doing something.

I recommend the book “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns, president of World Vision. Its basic point is that sometime back a divide rose in Christianity between those who preach a “social Gospel” and evangelicals who preach simply the Gospel but who overspiritualize passages about the poor and needy. It helped open my eyes to how much God speaks about our responsibility to the poor.

One other thought. The emphasiz on adoption has recently opened up the eyes of some in our congregation to the fact that the same verse in James that says caring for orphans is “true religion,” also calls for caring for widows. We’ve always had a visitation group that goes out to nursing homes and shut-ins, almost all of whom are widows, but there’s renewed interest in caring for these people and also building relationships with their families and touch them with God’s love in the process.

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