By Keith Spurgin, Lead Pastor of New Hope Church in Wylie www.newhopechristian.org.
Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part column.
Last week I wrote about why for so many the ‘c’ word – church, is a bad word. This week I want to share why I think the church is not only relevant to our day but important for the betterment of our world. Last week I was honest about the downfalls, but it’s important to also talk about the other side.
The church is the place where hundreds of millions of lives are being transformed for good. It’s the people of God working hard around the world to help the needy, feed the hungry, serve a hurting world, share the love of Christ, and give hope to the despairing. The church is the place where, even when a gunman walks into a Bible Study in Charleston killing 9 people in cold blood, the survivors respond otherworldly with forgiveness and grace.
I’ve spent the last couple decades traveling the world fairly extensively. I lived in Asia for several years. I’ve spent significant time in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa, and all across America. In those travels I’ve spent time with the very wealthy and the very poor. I’ve sat in the shack of a dying Aids victim trying to bring some level of comfort and I’ve dined with some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs Asia has to offer. In that time, I’ve noticed some things over and over again. With all the good work that governments around the world are attempting to do, it mostly comes down to pumping money into relatively hopeless situations. Sometimes that money gets to the people its intended to help and too often it simply lines the pockets of corrupt government officials. The difference I’ve seen over and over again is when the people of God are involved, the money from governments, from generous individuals and foundations almost always gets where it’s meant to go.
Here’s what I’ve seen…
- Most the work among the poor being done around the world is instigated by the church
- Almost all the work being done to rescue victims of sex trafficking is being spearheaded by the church
- The civil rights movement in America was led by a church pastor named Martin Luther King Jr.
- The worldwide orphan crisis around the world is primarily being addressed by the church
- Aids in sub-Saharan Africa is being engaged by the church
- The vast majority of charitable giving in America is done by church people
At the end of the day the church is not about buildings, money, organizations or politics. The church is the people of God serving God together.
If you love the idea of family then you love the church
If you love knowing there is a place and a people in the world who accept you just like you are and love you so much they are going to encourage you to your fullest potential then you love the church
If you believe that we should care deeply and always make room for the hurting, the broken, those trapped in addiction, lost in sin, marred by their mistakes, the doubters, the scoffers, those who have less than we do, then you believe in the mission of the church
If you long for the power of God to change lives, heal the sick, restore the broken, fill the empty, and bring joy to the hurting, then you belong in the church
If you long to be known, loved, nurtured, challenged to grow beyond your self-induced limitations then the church is the place for you
And if you love Jesus and want to follow him at any cost, then you ARE the church!