Due to my involvement with a bit of church leadership, I know that one of the few questions leaders ask frequently is on the role of church and social responsibility.
“Should the church be involved with social responsibility?”
“Shouldn’t the church just be focused on building the spiritual capacity of her members?”
These and many more are some of the questions that originate from the hearts of many majorly because some have brought forth arguments on whether the church should be responsible for this or should just focus on the rather pivotal issues of the kingdom like evangelism, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, Faith, the building up of the saints’ e.t.c.
To lay a foundation for this, I’d like to state that the church in this context is the collective body of members and not the building neither do I mean the individual members nor the leaders! I’d present a couple of case studies both from real life experiences and biblical stories and then draw up a conclusion.
Mrs. X is just a random person in our neighborhood. Till date, I know nothing about her religion. Largely, she has been responsible for providing water in our neighborhood on the condition of presence of power supply. So, the moment power is supplied, people troop to her compound in large numbers to get water. Recently, power supply has been erratic [low voltage supply basically] hence, she hasn’t been able to use the machine for fear of a breakdown. We thought that was the end until one day, she put on her generator and ensured that we all got enough water before she switched it off. Lest I forget, her house is located next to a church building.
MICC is another church in the neighborhood. Last week was dedicated to community service and from what I heard, they served the neighborhood. I mean, they supplied several tankers of water to the houses around. Not only that, they bought several bags of sachet water and made it available to everyone who cared to have one. No one who was around complained about not getting anything and people are low key preparing for the next one. I don’t need to be told, their church attendance is going to double this Sunday. A friend actually hinted me that he was going to miss church and attend MICC the next Sunday. Call that creative evangelism! I’m very sure this wasn’t the goal, but talk of the aftermath of a good work!
Jesus in Mark 6:30 – 44 brings forth the perfect example here when he was on one of his journeys and the crowd followed him as usual. Matthew 14:14 specifically says that Jesus had compassion, pity and deep sympathy for them and cured their sick. This also ultimately led to the miracle of the feeding of the over 5000. The issue is that many of us are busy enforcing spiritual principles on the congregation and are blind to the physical needs of these people. Hence, when Jesus was teaching in Matthew 25 and he brought up the proposition of “When I was hungry, poor and sick, you fed me”, his reply to the disciples was “As far as you did it for the least of men; you did it to me.”
We would keep speaking in a language that the people we are sent to would never fathom if we can’t take up the initiative to feed the poor, take care of the sick, minister healing to the broken hearted, provide scholarships and educational materials to poor children e.t.c Except we decide to be hypocritical with our approach, many of our fathers and some other older ones benefited from the many educational schemes that the evangelists provided on their arrival to Africa, Nigeria to be specific. So, why do we choose to major on the minor and minor on the major?
This is not to say we should not focus on the building up of the saints but how do they even become saints if we do not show forth a life that is worth being patterned after. It is therefore also essential that we help the people in our local communities to live better lives in the best of our capacity.
James presents a proposition in James 2:15-17
“If a brother is without clothes and daily food and one of you says to them “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself. [HCSB VERSION]
There’s no hard and fast rule to what a church should do in this case because needs are different based on diverse communities therefore, we should examine our environment, and come up with a spirit inspired help formula that is specialized to meet their needs and help them out in whatever capacity that we can.
This in itself is the love of Christ in action.