How Can We Build Respect for the Church in Our Community

Introduction

   Both the individual Christian and the church must have the respect of those in whom we are striving to convert.  When the Apostle Peter exhorted wives to live in such a way that they might win their husbands “without the word” this was not differing with the Apostle Paul who said that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (1 Pet. 3:1-4; Rom. 1:16).  Rather, Peter was teaching those wives that their pagan husbands must first learn to respect the Christianity embraced by their wives by seeing it demonstrated by them in the home.  It would only be then that the unbelieving husbands would be more willing to receive the Word.  

   What are some of the specific ways in which the church in the community in which it is located can gain the kind of respect that makes it easier to get people more receptive to hearing the inspired Word of God? 

Discussion

I.                   EACH INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN SHOULD SO CONDUCT HIS BUSINESS AFFAIRS THAT THOSE WHO COME TO KNOW HIM IN BUSINESS WILL HAVE CONFIDENCE IN HIM.

A.     There is not any substitute for basic integrity.

1.      We should have the reputation of doing what we say that we will do.  Remember the old saying:  “A man’s word is his bond!”

2.      This includes:  paying our debts and doing a day’s work for a day’s pay. 

1 Tim. 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” 

B.     Christians in some communities have no difficulty in acquiring a loan, buying on credit, or obtaining employment. 

II.                A SECOND WAY TO BUILD RESPECT IN THE COMMUNITY IS BY WAY OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY.

A.     Godly Christian homes gains respect for the church in the community. 

B.     Teachers in the school system can soon determine which children in their class comes from families that have taught them to show respect unto adults and has parents who are disciplinarians. 

Eph. 6:1-4, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord:  for this is right.  Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise;)  That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath:  but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” 

C.     Godly Christian homes are a wonderful bridge to the community.

1.      Christian families should show hospitality unto strangers, community leaders, school teachers, school board members, editors & publishers of local newspapers, and to fellow citizens of the community as well as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Titus 3:1, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” 

2.      By being a good neighbor will cause our fellow citizens in the community to be more receptive to our inviting them to a Gospel Meeting. 

III.              A MAJOR WAY OF MAKING INROADS FOR GOOD IN OUR COMMUNITY IS TO INVITE AND BRING CHILDREN UNTO THE SERVICES OF THE CHURCH.

A.     Jesus Christ placed emphasis upon having little children to come unto Him. 

Matt. 18:1-6, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” 

Mark 10:13-16, “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them:  and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.  But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:  for of such is the kingdom of God.  Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.  And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them.” 

B.     Working with young people will provide numerous blessings unto the local church.

1.      Such blessings as seeing those young people grow in knowledge and understanding of the Bible.

2.      To see their conduct change for the better.

3.      To see some of them, in time, obey the gospel.

4.      To gain the respect of their parents.

5.      In time, an entire family may start attending the services of the church because we showed interest in their children. 

IV.              ANOTHER VITAL WAY IN WHICH THE CHURCH CAN BUILD RESPECT IN THE COMMUNITY IS BY THE PRACTICE OF PURE AND UNDEFILED RELIGION (James 1:27).

A.     Our good works should be done in such a manner that the Lord will receive glory by way of His church. 

Matt. 5:13-16, “Ye are the salt of the earth:  but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thence forth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven.” 

Eph. 3:21, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.” 

B.     Doors of opportunity have been opened unto receptive hearts of those in whom we have shown compassion in a benevolent way.

1.      Conduct worship services in Nursing Homes.

2.      Visit shut-ins whether or not they are members of the church.

3.      Visit the patients in area hospitals.

4.      Assist those who have physical needs. 

Gal. 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” 

V.                 ONE WAY TO BUILD BRIDGES OF CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT IN A COMMUNITY IS FOR THE MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH TO MAKE A CONSCIOUS EFFORT TO VOLUNTEER FOR THE TYPE OF COMMUNITY SERVICE WHICH IS WHOLESOME AND WHICH ENABLES A CHRISTIAN TO SHOW TO THE COMMUNITY HIS INTEREST IN THE WELFARE OF HIS FELLOW CITIZENS.

A.     We should seek opportunities to serve in worthwhile ways in our community.

1.      We should involve ourselves in activities that do not conflict with the principles of the inspired Word and will not interfere with our service and responsibilities in the church.

2.      Some of the things that a Christian can participate in are as follows:  those with children in the school system could be members of the Parent & Teachers Association, serve on school boards and other worthwhile organizations in the community, aid in combating crime, and write letters to the Editor of the newspaper and the owner of the radio station. 

Titus 3:1, “Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.” 

VI.              ANOTHER PRACTICAL WAY TO BUILD CONFIDENCE AND RESPECT IN THE COMMUNITY IS TO RUN ARTICLES IN THE LOCAL PAPER WHICH PRESENTS THE BIBLE TEACHING ON PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN LIVING AS WELL AS ON DOCTRINAL POINTS.

A.     We need to keep the church of our Lord before the citizens of our community and using public media such as the local newspaper is an ideal means of doing so.

1.      Some ways in which this can be done are the following:  run articles on Christian Evidences, offer daily prayers for the newspaper, provide weekly articles on both Christian living and on doctrinal matters. 

Acts 13:49, “And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.” 

VII.           IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO HELP THE PREACHER TO BECOME BETTER ACQUAINTED IN THE COMMUNITY.

A.     It usually takes two to three years for a preacher of a congregation to become well acquainted with the citizens of a community. 

1.      His first priority is to become personally acquainted with the families of the local church.  A preacher can best do that by him and his wife visiting in the homes of the brethren.

2.      As time goes by, he will make contact with those who have not obeyed the gospel.  This would include those in the physical families of the brethren.  He should seek opportunities to set-up personal Bible studies with those who have not obeyed the gospel.   

Acts 5:42, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” 

Conclusion

   We are not implying that the church can be or should be popular with everybody, but we do know that the early church had periods when it had respect of their fellow citizens and many of those citizens obeyed the gospel of Christ. 

Acts 2:47, “Praising God, and having favor with all the people.  And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” 

   There may even be times when the church will be under persecution, but we should persevere and reach out unto our fellowman. 

Rom. 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

   In such situations we should apply what is commonly called:  The Golden Rule. 

Matt. 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them:  for this is the law and the prophets.” 

   If we prepare the soil and sow the seed, God will give the increase.  It may take time, but:  “…let us not be weary in well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9). 

1 Cor. 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 

--Dub Mowery

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