by Craig Etheredge
As a pastor, it can be easy to live on an island by yourself. The demands on pastors can be grueling. You have to be so many things for so many people and engage both your congregation and staff at deep levels. And sometimes, all you give can make you want to be able to go home and stay put.
But as a Christian, God has called you to reach out to the community around you in order to love and serve them just as well as you do your congregation. He didn’t intend for anyone, including pastors, to live isolated from the community around them. And in fact, reaching out to your community and serving can help grow your congregation.
Because the community sees a pastor who is invested in the entire community, not just those who attend their church.
But more importantly, we’re called to bear fruit outside of our vocation, even if we are in ministry.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:14-17 (ESV)
Does this mean you have to be out serving every single evening? No. It’s important to maintain balance. But it does mean we need to be engaging people in our community in Gospel conversations and exemplifying the Gospel through our actions.
So how can you be involved in your community?
Are your kids involved in Little League baseball? Maybe you can be a coach. Or even volunteer to bring snacks not only for the kids, but the adults as well.
Do you know your neighbors? If not, it might be a good opportunity to have a block party and invite the entire street.
Should your entire church be involved? We’ve heard of some churches taking a break from their normal events and activities to go out and do service projects around their community, whether it be helping plant flowers at a local school or helping a widower with handy tasks around the house.
Sometimes the best way to have more people come to know Jesus and be involved in a local body of believers, is to meet people where they are in order to introduce them to the Gospel.
Reaching your community and those who don’t know Jesus requires sacrifice on our end. But these sacrifices are fleeting in light of eternity with Jesus.