Welcome to the next installment in a series of posts that explores each part of the IMPACT acrostic. Each post is designed to expand the meaning and usefulness of the actions indicated in the acrostic. It is important to remember that the IMPACT Blog gets its name from a keyword in our FBC mission statement, so as we explore the larger meaning behind our name, we are also exploring foundational goals and values of FBC Hartselle.
Influence the culture
Make disciples who make disciples
Permeate the Community
Act according to the leading of the Holy Spirit
Create awareness in the community
Transform individuals, families, and our neighborhoods
What if our church could proudly display, “We Love Our Community” the way a local restaurant does in the picture above? Most everyone I know would say, “I love Hartselle.” But, does our community know that FBC loves Hartselle?
The church is the hope of the world and is positioned like no other channel of influence to shape culture. Few other institutions draw citizens from so many areas of society. We have leaders and influencers in education, sports, banking, local, national, and international business, government, and medical professions. On Sunday mornings we are the church gathered. But at all other times, we are the church scattered. As we scatter in our own different directions, there are ways that we can attempt to positively influence people around us.
This is an important way to permeate the culture because not only does it help to keep tax dollars here but it also gives you opportunities to build relationships with people in our community. Pray for the prosperity of local businesses and for friendships to be forged simply through your shopping habits. Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, God explained the wisdom and benefit of praying for the good of the city where they lived. Jeremiah 29:7 says, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” The welfare of the city was connected to their own welfare. The same is true for us today.
Understand and interact with the local culture
Look for opportunities to share why you love being involved at FBC. Earn the right to share your faith by building relationships based on honesty and integrity. Know the heartbeat of the community and speak the heart language. You know where people gather. You know where to encounter people (churched and unchurched). You know that education and sports are far and away top priorities in our community, so go there. Seek to make connections and be an influence.
In Luke 10, Jesus spoke to His small group of new disciples about why they should permeate their culture and how they should go about it. His words are just as relevant for us today. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2 ESV). He wanted the disciples to understand both the monumental task before them and also the importance of their role in this task. He reinforced the active nature of interacting with the culture around them and what should be their rules of conduct before, during, and after their interactions--everything should be bathed in prayer. According to Gallop Poll Research, one-third of all Americans now consider themselves non-religious, saying that, “Religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services.” Friends, the harvest is still plentiful.
When the church is rooted deeply in its community, and its membership is operating as public servants, the church will impact the lives of the people and the believers will fulfill the Messiah’s mission on earth.
A few years ago, while attending a class on hospital management for veterinarians, I discovered a cultural truth that startled me. Several attendees were discussing the best steps to take when making a business decision. My suggestion to pray first was met with icy stares of indignation. I’ve never forgotten the incident and have tried to understand possible reasons for the reaction.
Apparently, it seemed odd to others in the room that a spiritual answer would be considered relevant within a business context. Sadly, our culture’s default belief is that spiritual matters belong in a private box separated away from all other aspects of life.
Regrettably, many Christians buy into that same attitude. When we leave the church building and close the car door, do we drive into the culture around us, leaving our spirituality in the box (the church)? Oh, we live exemplary lives and are generally thought of as good people, but do we intentionally think, act, and speak the same way outside the church that we do inside the church? Or do we instead compartmentalize our activities into spiritual and non-spiritual?
We have the power as born-again Christians to affect the community we live in day after day. But we need to be intentional about letting His power out of the box and into every aspect of our lives. Then the church, one Spirit-filled Jesus follower at a time, will permeate and change the culture and the community making it better in countless ways.
Will you ask the Lord to show you His plan for you to join in His Kingdom work and intentionally help permeate our community with the Gospel?
When we do, God will be glorified, our church will be unified, and our community will prosper.