Part of the vision for our church in Stillman Valley is that we will actively engage the communities where we live. We are blessed to have people from so many different communities including Rochelle, Davis Junction, Byron, Cherry Valley, Rockford, and other areas.
In all of these communities, we want to meet our neighbors, show interest in those with whom we work, invite people to church, and display the love of Christ everywhere we go.
Of course, this is nothing that we came up with ourselves. Christ preached that Christians are to be the light of the world. And light should not be hidden. It should be placed prominently so that all can see (Matthew 5:14-16).
At its best, the church has always engaged and changed culture. The early church was so effective in doing this that by the year 200 the church father Tertullian could write:
We are but of yesterday, but we have filled every place among you cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palace, senate, forum we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods. Tertullian, circa 200 A.D.
Last night I watched one of the men in our community in Stillman Valley coach a 5th-6th grade baseball team. I listened to him encourage his team, instruct them, and interact with parents. At the same time, there were people from our church in the stands rubbing shoulders with others. I was reminded again that, if we are “intentional” in how we engage our communities, we have such an opportunity to light up our world by God’s grace.
Here are several things we can keep in mind as we seek to “light” up our world.
- Be Christian. It doesn’t help the cause of Christ if Christians yell at umpires and are dishonest in business. (Our coach did not yell at the ump last night – – quite the opposite).
- Invite people to the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley (or another Bible believing church!). “Would you be my guest at church? We could sit together and go out for brunch afterwards . . .”
- Make the connection for people. “The guy coaching is part of our church family,” or, “The guy taking pictures is our pastor. He really loves young people.”
- Pray while you rub shoulders with the community. Any time we are in the mall, or at a school event in Byron or somewhere else, prayers should drift up as we intercede in behalf of our communities. See Secret Prayers!
- Share the Gospel! Tell others the good news that, though we are sinners, through Christ we can be reconciled to God! (See What do Christians Mean When They Reference the Gospel)