Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Being a Caring Church – Part 1


I recently read something that has to do with caring for people. A church should be a caring community, loving one another and caring for one another. This reminds me of John Wesley’s general rules: “do no harm, do all the good you can, and stay in love with God.”

Christian care begins within the church community, but flows out from there to the world. The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 6:9-10:

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. NRSV

I believe that if a church isn’t doing a good job within itself, it will certainly fail when it tries to look outward. What the church of Jesus Christ should be doing is what Jesus himself did: overcome evil with good; overcome hate with love; and overcome sin with forgiveness and restoration (the cross).

To reinforce what we are doing and demonstrate why it is so important, I want to summarize the key points in the article about being a caring church. The writer of the article lists five elements that make up a caring church.

1. Bringing Members to Maturity

First, a caring church is excited about bringing its members to spiritual maturity. We talked a little about this last week, how Christian hospitality is concerned with finding a spiritual home for people. The ultimate object of Christian hospitality is that people will spiritually grow and mature in their relationship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul explains how important it is to learn about Jesus and grow in spiritual maturity (Colossians 1:25-29):

I became a servant of the church because God gave me a special work to do that helps you, and that work is to tell fully the message of God. This message is the secret that was hidden from everyone since the beginning of time, but now it is made known to God’s holy people. God decided to let his people know this rich and glorious secret which he has for all people. This secret is Christ himself, who is in you.
He is our only hope for glory. So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature person in Christ. To do this, I work and struggle, using Christ’s great strength that works so powerfully in me

So part of being a caring church is helping others in their spiritual walk, and being patient with them, as we read in today’s epistle (Romans 15:1-2):

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. NIV

In addition, a caring church looks at problems as opportunities for spiritual growth, to become more Christ-like. Part of problem-solving is searching out root causes and with the Spirit’s help finding lasting solutions. When a church’s emphasis is spiritual maturity, practices radical hospitality, and has a spirit of love and unity, then it will have effective ministry to all.

Based on articles from Every Day with Jesus (Jan-Feb 2009), by Selwyn Hughes, CWR Ministries, Waverly Abbey House, Waverly Lane, Farnham, Surry GU9 8EP UK. © 2009 All rights reserved.

More on this topic of caring in a future post.

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