"DOING CHURCH FOR THE "NEW ERA"
Full gospel engagement (Salvation ethos AND Service-to-others ethos)
We believe the leading reason church members don’t find the meaning and
hope they seek is because they only embrace, at best, the salvation gospel (a sliver
of the full gospel), while ignoring the “rest of the gospel story” taught and
commanded by Jesus’ life, words and deeds. Specifically they don’t serve others,
especially those in most need. And yet they are involved in a church whose main
teaching about Christ is that He “came not to be served, but to serve others."
Service-to-others benefits everyone involved in the process. The problems faced
by the “least of these” in America and the world have never been greater than right now. Those in need benefit directly when others
serve them with their time, talent, treasure and voice. Those who serve others with a compassionate and loving heart, like Christ showed us through His actions and words, receive blessings in mind and spirit, and in honoring God by doing His work to usher in the kingdom of God here on earth.
Those who witness or experience this type of giving because “Jesus loves me” and “it’s the right thing to do” are attracted to the lifestyle they see that is rich in meaning and purpose, and hope. Institutions exist to leverage the resources and energy of many toward a common goal are benefited by the actual support of time, talent and treasure channeled through them, and become the loudspeaker on behalf of service-to-others.
And in the final analysis, people of faith should serve others because it is commanded by God to address the needs of the oppressed. Because I AM told us so. That’s why.
So, why don’t more people of faith take seriously the command of God to serve others, to practice a living faith vs. a dead faith? Some possible reasons might include:
Serving others is not required for eternal salvation. “By grace are you saved and not by works…”
Humans are self-centered by nature; it is not natural to selflessly serve others. It has to be a learned discipline of the Christian life.
Serving others, particularly the least of these, has not been emphasized strongly or taught by church leaders.
People of faith have not heard about (or experienced) the blessings and benefits that come from serving others: feeling
God’s pleasure (“well done good and faithful servant”) or the satisfaction of seeing transformation for good in another
We live in a “busy” culture – the race for success/achievement does not leave much time or energy for serving others.
Some have said we live in a “time impoverished” society. And yet we have as much time as any other culture. It’s our choice how we use our time (but our choices are driven more by culture than biblical principle) that drives our time impoverishment.
In short, we believe people of faith don’t engage in service-to-others because
they haven’t been taught; or
they haven’t “heard” the teaching; or
they don’t take it seriously because they aren’t held accountable to obey what God demands.
With hope – and a well implemented plan – it is possible to establish a service-to-others ethos in the faith community. And when people begin to lead a service-to-others lifestyle, they will experience deeper meaning in life, will have hope in the future, and will give more and serve more. In essence…they will experience a life that is good – full of meaning and making sense. Service-to-others then becomes the means to the end.
But, to break the inertia of “we haven’t done it that way before” and the fears that come with change, the pastors will need new and effective tools to lead it. They need a total system that includes a method to integrate a service-to-others ethos into every aspect of the church’s ministries. This would include, but not be limited to, a specific service-to-others Bible study, a mechanism to add a service-to-others ethos message to every Bible study, defining “full gospel engagement” as the standard for church membership, expecting church members to “do something” to earn full gospel engagement status, offering a baseline series of studies that define full gospel engagement membership, a systematic way to plug people into service inside and outside the walls of the church, a way to reward and recognize full gospel engagement, a way to measure it, and much more.
Church culture shift, not a new gospel
Full gospel engagement through a service-to-others ethos transformation is not a new version of the gospel. It is applying the gospel, in its entirety, through the local church and into the members’ lives. It is church leaders embracing and setting biblical expectations – at least insuring their members clearly hear what the Bible says – of membership. It is offering ways for the members to engage within and without the church walls in serving others. It is committing to a new normal of behavior for those who call themselves Christian, and giving them outlets to experience the fullness of joy that comes with obeying God. It is a powerful, perhaps the most powerful, evangelism strategy. It is answering this question, in detail and with conviction, “What does it mean to ‘Walk with God?’” And it is what God says to do.