At Impact Outreach Church, we have identified 10 biblical values that shape who we are and guide our practice as a church body. I’m feeling led to talk about these 10 values that define and mold us as a church. As I’ve had and listened to conversations over the last month or so, I have been saddened and disheartened by how people treat one another, think about one another, and talk about one another -- both within churches, among churches, and viewing people outside our churches. As Jesus-followers, we are called to a higher standard! Let’s look at Jesus’ standards today for PARTNERING with people.
As stated in our Values, Impact Outreach Church values or places importance upon PARTNERING with people and organizations who share our mission to impact people with Jesus’ love and be His hands and feet in our world
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Church or ekklesia (from the Greek) means “the called-out ones” -- we are called out of the world to be church together -- church universal. I fully believe that when God looks down from Heaven, he doesn’t see the signs over our doors or the names on our signs -- he sees redeemed people from every walk of life as part of His body -- one body . . . .
We make distinctions. We put up signs. We craft doctrine. We create values statements. We plan programs. We look down our noses at other denominations -- or those who don’t claim a denomination. The disciples of the New Testament did this too -- it’s not unique to us.
There was a situation where the disciples witnessed something in Luke 9: 49 John said to Jesus, “Master, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he isn’t in our group.”
50 But Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! Anyone who is not against you is for you.”
They -- the disciples of Jesus -- STOPPED other disciples of Jesus because “he isn’t in our group” -- boy, doesn’t that sound familiar? Churches on every corner, but we don’t DARE work together, because someone will think we AGREE -- or we are part of the SAME group?!?! Or, maybe we don’t work together because we are concerned about WHICH GROUP GETS THE CREDIT . . . .when in reality, it should be Jesus who gets the CREDIT. . . .we are so consumed with promoting our group, our doctrine, our agenda . . . but Jesus said, “Anyone who is not against you is for you.”
Jesus also said, “34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” -- John 13.
How we treat each other demonstrates our discipleship to Jesus!!! How the Baptists treat the Methodists and how the non-denominationalists treat the denominationalists -- how the Christians around the world -- and around the corner treat each other reflects on Jesus. If we want to be taken seriously as Jesus-followers, we need to LOVE each other. We need to understand that EVERY group has error or has interpreted something improperly. Yes, we understand that Rapturists and non-rapturists cannot BOTH be exactly right . . .But, can we look at the scriptures and say, “I’m not sure which way it will happen, but however it happens, I want to be ready. I want to serve. I want to follow. . .”??? That is the bottom line. If we choose not to be so dogmatic about our denominational (or non-denominational doctrine), we could accomplish more together.
Some of the most meaningful times I have spent have been when Christians who worship under different signs and different doctrines come together. It’s happened a lot for us -- because this is one of our values -- it’s important to us to love each other and work together because it was important to Jesus. Bo Shaw plans and executes a community event called Unity in Community every October -- it has people from lots of different denominations (and non-denominations) coming together to walk -- and work-- in unity for the day -- black and white, charismatic and non-charismatic, traditional and contemporary -- whatever lines you want to draw are erased for the day -- and we come together as God’s people. IOC did a pulpit swap with an AME Zion Church last year -- and it was a blessing! We led worship in their church, our pastor brought the message. We enjoyed fellowship and worshiped together in God’s presence -- and I have to believe He smiled. . . . Pastor Shane and I have really enjoyed a monthly worship gathering with friends about an hour away. The people come from many different worship backgrounds, but when we come together without walls, the worship is so beautiful.
Jesus wants us to find partners. He said this in Matthew’s gospel:
In Matthew 10, Jesus gave these instructions to His disciples as He sent them out during His ministry: 5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: “Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep.7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!
9 “Don’t take any money in your money belts—no gold, silver, or even copper coins. 10 Don’t carry a traveler’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed.
11 “Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. 12 When you enter the home, give it your blessing. 13 If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. 14 If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. 15 I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day.
He encouraged them to find partners -- people whom they could help and people who could help them. The principle still applies to us as His disciples today.
Some might point to Revelation and Corinthians to talk about being careful about who we align ourselves with, and that is true -- the Bible is clear that we should not be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” -- working side by side in a binding way that shows us to be equals when we are not . . . Some might say, “But that doctrine they teach is wrong in ________denomination. We don’t want to associate with them.” I guess they think they have all the right doctrine -- and only THEY do . . . this breeds the thinking that ____________Church is the only ones going to Heaven. That, I have to believe does NOT make God smile.
Jesus told this parable that illustrates how we should handle “weeds” in our gospel-tilled gardens: 24 Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. 25 But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. 26 When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
27 “The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
28 “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
29 “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
Jesus acknowledged that some in the “field” (representative of the church or the kingdom here) were “weeds” -- counterfeit plants; wrong place, wrong time, wrong doctrine, wrong dress, wrong income, wrong sign over their door. . . . the farmer’s workers wanted to do the “weeding” --get rid of the bad stuff -- The farmer said that would be the work of the harvesters at the end of the season. . . . notice what He says will happen -- they’ll be burned -- In other words, Jesus will sort it all out in the end. He doesn’t need us to do the sorting here. Yes, we should make judgements about which doctrines WE will adhere to -- every church is responsible for its doctrine -- leaders are responsible to rightly divide the word of truth as best they can to help the church grow (spiritually and numerically) and to spread the good news about Jesus. We should make judgements about which church we will become a part of -- it should be a church where we mostly agree with the doctrine (BTW, you’ll probably NEVER find a church that you agree with everything 100%) and the heart matches our heart -- most importantly that it is a bibilical, God-loving, Jesus-following church to the best we can determine. But that doesn’t mean that churches that have some different doctrine cannot still come together -- as Jesus said-- because we are all on Jesus’ side and can do more together that we can do separately.
We are a small church right now -- small attendance, small money, small worship area -- but God can use small things when we allow ourselves to be used. We can be used much more effectively when we are willing to partner with others who are already doing great things -- it’s why-- at IOC, we partner with Families First: who are seeking to provide help to those caught up in abusive relationships. We provide a Thanksgiving meal to those in their shelter each year. We donate materials to their thrift stores. We tithe out of our offerings, and a portion goes to them. We find other ways to love and serve a need that has already been identified and someone is striving to meet the need. It’s why we partner with Ambassador Camp -- partnering with them allows us to use our limited resources to help share the gospel with tons and tons of kids and young people each summer as we give a portion of our tithe to them. We help in physical ways too -- as we provide a luncheon for their volunteers on the weekend they are prepping for their busy summer. We also facilitate a time of worship and encouragement for them as they set out to serve for the summer. We also partner with the Dream Center -- a facility in town that does lots of good in our community -- parenting classes, financial training, afterschool programs, and much more -- providing for these organizations financially and in whatever physical ways we can helps both organizations do more with what we have.
While those are the three organizations we partner with financially, there are others we help in other ways:Community CPR connects people and resources in light of disaster and need and we’ve had lots of opportunities to help out in their warehouse, share resources and more. Living Hope provides hope, gospel message, prenatal care, parenting training, and so much to expectant families. We participate in their Bottles of Blessing program each year and some of us have participated in their fund-raising dinner as well. Additionally, several of our members serve on their prayer team -- praying for these moms that are considering abortion or adoption -- moms that don’t know Jesus, etc.
There is no point starting from scratch -- reinventing the wheel. Starting a ministry from scratch is arduous, but if we can help people that have already begun ministries that need supporting, then it is a win-win -- and when we do it in the name of Jesus, it is a win-win-win because HE is the one who gets the credit, the honor, the glory. And that, my friends, is what we are here for -- to bring honor and glory to HIM -- no matter what our SIGN says. . . .