I'm on vacation right now and I've had lots of "pondering" time. It's what you do when it's December and you either use your remaining accrued vacation or lose it January 1. I'm using this time to catch up on writing assignments, and an idea has crossed my mind.
Over the past 25 years, what are some things that have changed our world?
What would you put on that list? I got to thinking about it and here are some of the things that have definitely changed our world (I'm thinking of positive changes, not sub-prime lending):
- the personal computer
- the internet
- mobile phones
- Wal Mart
- the environmental movement
- Barack Obama (we'll see but let's give him a clean slate to start with)
- democracy in Eastern Europe
- the iPod
- HDTV (*grin… football never looked so good)
Okay, I know it's personal opinion and that my list is not anywhere close to complete, but it is a quick effort. Yours is probably different, but here is the key question for those people like me who believe in the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives and change society: did the church make your list? Let's make it even more personal…
Is your small group or Sunday School class changing the world?
I may be totally off-base here, but I think we Christians need to come to terms with what we say we believe about the gospel and what we are actually doing about it. Now there are some bright spots. In the six weeks following Hurricane Katrina, the denomination I belong to served 14 million meals to refugees in the Gulf Coast. There are some great churches springing up who have a vision of world change and are planting churches all over the world. But by and large, most of us apparently do not think we can do much in the way of world change.
I've got some ideas to help us start seeing our churches and even our small group Bible studies as platforms for world change:
First, find out what your church is doing and join the cause. Be encouraging in missions that your church is already in. Be bold and share about denominational efforts like mission offerings, World Hunger Day, etc.
Next - make it personal. I'm convinced today that each of us needs to get our "hands dirty" and physically do something. I accidentally got involved in the Global Blood Fund, but I've gotten personal with it. I not only donate blood, I promote the concept of churches hosting blood drives and instead of donors receiving a $4 t-shirt that they are never going to wear, tell your blood bank to make a $4 donation to the Global Blood Fund and help build and resource blood clinics in Third World nations and save lives.
Finally, get your small groups involved. Allow small group Bible studies to discover and "own" their own mission projects. My experience with this approach has been that they will rally around their own ideas; more people will get involved; more money will be raised; and that the class or group will actually have better unity when they are personally involved in a cause bigger than themselves. We have a module to help small groups and Sunday School classes become more missional called PowerUP Your World. It includes a 50 day spiritual journal, group prayer guides, and ideas about how to do class or group mission projects. You can also preview this resource at www.bgco.org/sspowerup.
You may have some other ideas, and I'd love to hear them.