Whether we call it “Social Justice,” Social Action,” or “Mission-oriented” ministry, too many congregations are wearing themselves out and, worse, missioning themselves out of existence. What we need to do is find how we can start focusing our outward-focused ministries inside.
I know, I know: we talk all the time about the dangers of navel-gazing and focusing on ourselves. It’s still true. And there’s a huge need for work that focuses on those beyond our doors. But we have to remember who and Whose we are … and let people know on Whose behalf we are doing our work.
There are a lot of good organizations doing a lot of good work out there. But for the vast majority of folks outside the Church, we are just another Lions or Kiwanis or name your NPO.
Some of us serve others because that’s what Jesus did. Some of us serve others because that’s what Jesus tells, or told, us to do. Some of us serve others because our relationship with Jesus inspires and motivates us to do so. Regardless, we’ve been instructed to “Let our Light shine,” so that people will come to see God and give Him the thanks and praise.
How many times have you seen a church leader receive an award and they thank the awarders for their recognition? They may even share how the recognized work is making a difference in the lives of those they help.
And how many times have you seen the recipient point to Jesus as the reason for their work and note that there are merely receiving the award on Jesus’ behalf? Not very often, I’d guess.
The outward work of the Church has to have an inward – upward focus as well.