6 Ways for the Church to Have More Effect on Society

Friendship Together Bonding Unity Youth Culture Concept

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.”[1] 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: 

  1. 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? 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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. 
  5. 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.  
  6. 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? 


[1] https://lifewayresearch.com/2021/09/07/americans-grow-more-optimistic-about-churches/?ecid=PDM244108&bid=1699304993

2 Comments

  • Robin G Jordan says:

    You left out a very important one–becoming more active in the life of the community, not only collectively as a local church but also individually as disciples of Jesus. Practice “See a Need, Meeet a Need.” Jesus tells us that the kingdom is like yeast in a lump of dough. The dough rises because the yeast spreads throughout the dough. When we become more deeply involved in the life of the community, we are like the yeasst in the dough. We come into contact with non-believers and they come into contact with us. We show that we care and in doing so, we increase the likelihood that non-believers may check us out as a church and give us a hearing as an individual disciple. Non-believers may have heard little or nothing about Jesus’ life and teaching but suprisingly they expect us to act like Jesus, showing loving for them, treating them with kindness, and so on. When we meet their positive expectations, they will be more open to us and our beliefs. On the other hand, if we meet their negative expectations, we will in effect push them away. As the old saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” .In practice this means dialing down the judgmentalism, the politics, the self-righteousness, and the like. They will be open to us if we are open to them.

  • marks says:

    Pope Francis said to Learn from the people before you teach the people. Pope Benedict XVI said Church grows through attraction, not proselytism. Listen to what. People are telling you. Learn the culture before you try to teach people in that culture. Talk to people you would not ordinarily talk to even through zoom if you they want to. Go outside and walk or go to the gym, when we can, and talk to people. You never know who would talk to you if were available. Jesus went outside among the people.

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