A recent Lifeway Research projected concluded that “62% of U.S. adults say they believe churches and religious organizations have a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days.” I’m glad to hear that conclusion—an improvement from previous studies—but I still encourage us to consider how we might most have a positive effect on society. Here are some things we can do:
- Evaluate whether we are really proclaiming the gospel clearly to a non-believing world. I’m increasingly concerned that we assume people know the gospel, and we don’t intentionally and plainly teach it each week. If a non-believer attended your church service last Sunday, would he or she have heard a distinct gospel presentation?
- Do a better job of helping listeners apply the gospel in their lives. I remain convinced that application is the weakest part of most expository preaching today. The gospel is always relevant, but we often have to help folks see the intersections between the truth and their lives.
- Strengthen involvement in the community. My hope is that the positive trend evident in the Lifeway study shows some improvement in this area. I suspect ministry activities during COVID have helped here—but we still have a long way to go to reach our communities. The gospel requires a proactive approach, not a reactive one.
- Hold believers accountable to holy living. As long as our lives look like the world, the world will never believe the gospel has changed us. Even those folks raised in a Christian home should show a difference when they become genuine believers. This step, by the way, will require us to give more attention to church discipline, too.
- Improve our processes for enlisting and equipping the best small group leaders. Small groups are a primary place where believers experience life-on-life Christianity. There they have opportunity to ask questions, apply truths, etc.—so, we should take seriously our responsibility to put the right leaders in place. The wrong leaders will hinder a small group, and the church will have missed an opportunity to be a stronger witness.
- Earnestly carry out our responsibility to pray “petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority” (1 Tim 2:1-2). Our obedience to God on behalf of those who govern is not optional—so we must intentionally build this commitment into our church life. We should pray not only for their salvation, but also for their wisdom.
What would you add to this list?