If you’re a part of a church, then you’ve got at least a nominal desire to reach your city. In church lingo, we call that our “Jerusalem,” from Christ’s great mandate of Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”. Last week we talked about Acts 1:8 being a command to tell your story. This week, let’s begin to look at the different geographic regions Jesus mentioned. Many churches talk about reaching their Jerusalem, but few churches do it. Why is it so difficult to reach your Jerusalem?
1. Maybe your Jerusalem doesn’t look like you anymore. Demographics shift, and many historical churches find themselves surrounded by an ethnic mix they’re honestly not comfortable with. Latent racism can destroy a church and keep it from reaching its full potential. Is the ethnic and demographic makeup of your community accurately reflected in your church? If so, then you’re reaching your Jerusalem.
2. Maybe your church’s desire to reach your Jerusalem is superceded by its desire to maintain its traditions. Some churches proudly proclaim their desire to reach their city. They preach about it. They sing about it. They hand out doorhangers and put on evangelistic outreaches. But if they don’t change their basic approach to church, they’re done before they even start. It’s impossible to expect the unchurched to come into your church and fit right in with traditions and programs and a style of worship that only has meaning to those who were born and raised in church. Does your church programming conducive to outsiders, or is it full of lingo and traditions that only churched people will know?3. Maybe your church’s core doesn’t want to reach outsiders. They just want to be entertained. Pastors can get into a real difficult situation here. Perhaps their heart is to genuinely reach the lost of their community, but if their leadership would rather be entertained, then they’ve got problems. Christ’s command is to reach our city, but our city doesn’t pay the light bill or the pastor’s salary. The church’s core does. One way or the other, they call the shots. They have to be on board for a church to reach its city.
Supposing a church really does want to reach its city, how can it do that? Here’s how the early church reached its city. Remember, the first church didn’t have creative programming, outstanding facilities, a suave marketing campaign or even childcare for parents. So, how did Christianity ever penetrate Jerusalem? “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need” Acts 2:44-45. The first church was united in serving the people of Jerusalem. That’s the secret. Here’s the BIG Idea: The way to reach your city is to serve your city.
How is your church serving the city? What are you doing outside the four walls of your church building that’s having a positive impact on your community? What are you doing to bless others in your city? If you serve your city, you’ll reach your city. Plain and simple.
QUESTION: What are some practical ways that your church can serve your city?