Across the world, there are children in poverty, schools in great need, cities decaying, families in crisis, and people longing for hope. All you have to do is watch the news and it seems like the world is on fire, with disasters and tragedies on every side. In the midst of the chaos, there is an increasing need for the church to stand up and be an effective voice and leader, building bridges between the church and the community to offer good deeds and good news to people who want to find answers to humanity’s deepest needs. It is important for leaders in the church to begin focusing on reaching out externally to communities, fulfilling Jesus’ mandate for the church to be both salt and light to the world.
The Church is Not Called to Be Isolated
Churches often have a natural inclination toward isolation, inward focus, and self-preservation. At different times in church history, isolationism has become a problem for the church. A church that is isolated is not following the great commission given by Jesus in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Although the church has been called out to be separate in their lifestyle, the church was not called to be isolated from the people and communities it is called to influence.
What is the cost of isolationism in the church? First, isolationism drives young people away from the church. Christianity Today noted that 25% of young people between the ages of 18 and 29 feel that the isolationism is a problem in the church. Instead of reaching out, these young people felt that the church demonized everything that was outside of the church. And when that happens, the church is simply pointing out problems instead of getting involved in communities and changing the culture around it.
Isolationism also costs the church its voice. Although we live in a country where there is supposed to be a separation between church and state, it does not mean that the church should be isolated and quiet. The church should stand up and be a voice in the community, changing the world around them instead of retreating.
Speaking Up for People in Our Own Backyard
Many churches today have excellent mission programs, and they have a great understanding of changing the world. Missions are an important part of church ministry, but churches must learn to start looking in their own backyard as well. No matter the size of the community, there are needs, and the church is called to speak up and be a voice for people who cannot speak for themselves. When the church does not speak up on community, state, or national issues, the church is not only missing a large piece of the gospel, it is missing the opportunity to be a voice for good and change.
Training for Service
For the church to stand up and be a voice and leader in the community, the church must begin training a new generation of leaders for service in the future. Failing to train new leaders for future service and ministry will result in a dying church that no longer impacts the world around it. The church is in desperate need of new leaders that will continue the work of the church while continuing to take steps to build bridges to the community. It is important to prepare Christians for leadership with proper training, and with proper training and a willingness to serve, new leaders can rise up to meet the many challenges that lie ahead for the church.
The church has a lot of work to do, and now is the time when the church needs to rise up and become the voice and leader it is called to be. It cannot survive with isolationism, and instead must build bridges to the community, speak up for the voiceless, and become a powerful voice in the world that offers hope and grace to people, regardless of class, race, or national interests.
If you would like to learn more about ministry and leadership professions in the church that will allow you to serve others and help the church become a voice and leader in the world today, we would love to introduce you to the Christian perspectives offered in our Christ-centered, biblically based programs at OKWU. We train people for a life of Christian service, preparing a new generation of leaders that can carry on the important work of the church in the world today. To learn more about how Oklahoma Wesleyan University can help you pursue your calling in church ministry and leadership, call us today at 918-335-6200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.