Thursday, September 27, 2012

Why Faith in Action Sunday?

"Don't Go ... BE!"

This is where the slogan comes from. It's not a slam on organized Christianity. It's not telling people to stay away from church.

Some people (like me!) use the slogan all the time. But the folks who came up with it created it for one Sunday out of the year. A Sunday when churches  cancel their service of worship, and leave the building to worship through service.

FAITH IN ACTION SUNDAY was created by World Vision International in partnership with Outreach Magazine. Covenant Community has participated in this national program ever since it started in 2007. This coming Sunday (September 30) will be our sixth Faith in Action Sunday.

It's very important that you understand why we do this. At Covenant Community, our mission is "to draw people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." Everything we do as a church must be a means to this end (see MATTHEW 28:19-20). We exist to proclaim the Gospel--to name the Name--to communicate this Biblical truth:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us (1 John 3:16).
Our mission is not just to do nice things for people. Our mission is to get across a message.

But here's the thing: In today's world, a lot of people don't want to hear our message. There's more mistrust of Christians than ever before, especially among 18-30-year-olds. People in this age group see Christians as judgmental, hypocritical, narrow-minded, anti-science, and anti-homosexual. Whether their perceptions are accurate or not is beside the point. What you and I need to know is that if we're going to reach these folks with the message of God's love in Christ, we've got to cross a huge barrier.

The Scripture I quoted above, 1 John 3, goes on to say:
Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18).
Love in action. Faith in action. An unbelieving world is watching to see whether the message we proclaim with our lips makes a real difference in our lives. They're wondering if our beliefs lead to anything good for the community--or if all we care about is getting ourselves into heaven when we die.

When we put our faith in action by serving in the community, we present a positive witness of the life-changing impact of the Gospel. We show that Christian faith does make a difference--here, now, in the real world, in real time.

And maybe when we do that, people become a little more willing to listen to what we have to say.

Our mission is to get across a message. Good deeds are not the message. But they can open the door for the message.

And they can give you something positive to talk about with your unchurched family and friends. Studies show that the number one reason people come to church--and to faith in Christ--is through a personal invitation from someone they know. So maybe you're not going to go to work on Monday and recite my sermon to your unbelieving friend. And maybe you're not going to sing last Sunday's worship songs to your non-Christian neighbors. But these people might be very interested to hear about the amazing things your church is doing in the community.  And those conversations can create opportunities for you to invite them to come serve with us -- and maybe even to attend church with you.

That's why faith in action. Now, why Faith in Action Sunday? Why take a Sunday off to go out and serve?  Here's why: Because this interruption of the normal routine forces every member of the Covenant family to stop and think. Think about a world in need. Think about ways you could make a difference. Think about the importance of serving as a way to open the door for our message.

Faith in Action Sunday is not about Faith in Action Sunday. It's about putting your faith in action all year long. It's about developing an outward-focused life. And hopefully (and prayerfully) it's about opening doors to share the Gospel.

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