- Understand God’s call to minister with actions as well as words.
- Understand that as they show love with actions, people in the community will be drawn to the church.
- Identify how their own church can start to make God’s love visible.
In groups of four
Make a list of all the activities your church does (draw to represent each activity if necessary).
When finished, ask the groups to go through the list and mark whether the activity is designed for people who attend church or those who don’t attend church. How many activities are focused on those that are poor and needy?
As a large group discuss briefly
- What do people in the community think about the church?
- What do people in the community think the church does?
- What do people in the community think about Christians?
- Do people in the community want to come to church or do you have to go and invite them?
- How do you think the people in the community would feel if the church wasn’t there anymore?
- Do you think this makes God happy?
Read Isaiah 58
Explain that Isaiah was writing to the Israelites who were God’s chosen people. They are an example for the church today.
Read Isaiah 58:1-10 and discuss:
- What were the people doing?
- What was God’s reaction to these people?
- Why did God react in this way?
Divide the class into groups of four or five. Ask each group to summarize this passage by either drawing a picture or writing a sentence.
After each group has presented their sentence or picture, ask them what they think these ideas mean for the church today.
Salt and Light
Either as a small or large group
Read Matthew 5:13
- Why does Jesus say that Christians are “the salt of the earth”?
- How can we be like “salt”?
- In what ways could we lose our “saltiness”?
Read Matthew 5:14-16
- Do we sometimes try to cover up the “light”?
- How can we shine more brightly?
Stories of being salt and light
Story 1 – Saris for the Poor
The church members in this church considered themselves an oppressed religious minority. They were fearful of ministering outside the Christian community. After learning that they should demonstrate Christ’s love to the entire community, the pastor encouraged the women of the church to investigate community needs during the next week.
At the next week’s service, the women reported they had found twelve Hindu women who each had only one sari (dress). In the hot climate, the saris must be washed daily. If a woman has only one sari, she stays inside until her washed sari has dried in the sun. The pastor asked if there were women in the congregation who had three saris and who would be willing to donate one to those Hindu women. Enough women volunteered to meet the reported need. The following week, the women of the church visited the homes where the women had only one sari, and they offered a second sari. The Hindu women were so impressed with this gesture that they invited the Christian women to pray for them. Some of the pregnant Hindu women also asked the Christian women to pray for their unborn children.
Story 2 – Water for the Community
In one area the people faced a huge water shortage. After learning about God’s desire for the church to reach out to their community, the church leadership decided to explore what they could do on their own to meet the need for water. They found somewhere that rented equipment that could be used to dig wells by hand. At first, people rejected the idea—they thought that the water was too deep. If hand-dug wells were possible, they reasoned, why hadn’t they been dug before?
However, the church leadership decided to try. They rented the one-by-one meter collapsible steel cylinder and winch. They moved it to their community and began to dig for water at the back of the church property. When water was struck at forty-five feet, everyone celebrated enthusiastically.
Non-church members, however, were not pleased. They thought that church members would keep the water for themselves. But instead, the church invited the community to share in God’s blessings of their successful well. Soon, representatives from nearby parts of the rural community began to ask church leaders if they would help dig wells in other parts of the community. The church responded positively. In little more than a year, fifteen wells were dug by hand, one more than eighty feet.
Because the church showed God’s love to the community this way, the people were so impressed by the church that when the church invited the community to come to hear the message of God’s love, it was filled with people. They were curious to know more about the God and the people who had provided water.
- What did these churches do?
- Were they rich churches?
- What resources did they use?
- Why did they do these things?
- What was the impact of their actions?
Sheep and the Goats—Matthew 25:31-46
As a large group
Read Matthew 25:31-46
1. What was the difference between the sheep and the goats?
2. What are some of the things that the sheep did? Are they spiritual things or physical things?
- (Help the students see that the emphasis of this passage is on physical things. Jesus didn’t say “I was hungry and you gave me a tract” or “I was in the hospital and you sent me some sermon tapes.” They were physical solutions to physical needs.)
3. How often does your church do the things mentioned by Jesus?
4. What would be the impact on your community if all the members of your church did these things?
(Some possible answers)
- They would have a positive impression of the church
- Their lives would improve
- They would be more open to learning about God
Divide into groups and fill in the chart below. Think of some ideas of how the church can help in each of these areas.
Ways that the Church can help
Lack of Shelter