How Do Non-Christians View Your Community Service?

As believers take steps to focus on meeting needs beyond the walls of the church, it’s important to consider how those being served (as well as those who may observe your acts of service) will interpret your actions. It’s possible that your best intentions and efforts to serve may be misunderstood. Avoid drawing attention to yourselves or your church or ministry group as you seek to meet needs. Do they see you and your church, or do they see Jesus and the hope of the gospel?

I regret the time we served a Thanksgiving meal to families at the local community center and I called up the newspaper to make sure that they sent a photographer and reporter to cover the story. I was so thrilled that we were featured on the front page of the local paper on Thanksgiving Day. Even though our church members genuinely served the families in the community who may not have enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal otherwise, I was motivated by the publicity this could bring our church. Now, I am wondering how non-Christians actually viewed our community service. Did they see the values and hope of the kingdom, or did they see us as self-serving to get attention for group?

Many groups get T-shirts for group members to wear as they serve together. There’s nothing wrong with T-shirts and they can often help to build team unity and identify who is involved. However, what is being communicated by your T-shirts to those you are serving? Or what is communicated to those observing? [If it is “look at us” – don’t do it.]
Realize that all acts of service to any group of people (addressing social, economic or physical needs) carry a message that must be understood and interpreted through an outsider’s point of view.

Ask: Are we willing to partner together with others to bring about change and not be concerned with who gets the credit? Are we communicating the values and hope of the kingdom?


Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
8 replies
  1. ZooMuse
    ZooMuse says:

    I was encouraged a few days ago when I heard the story of how one young man ended up visiting our Sunday gathering. New to the community and in discussion with the mail carrier, he asked about church possibilities in our small town. After naming several, she said, “But, you need to go to the church that meets in the junior high school. If I went to church, that’s the one I’d attend.” Not enough to write a book on or go on the seminar circuit, but a suggestion that something good is happening.

  2. John Lunt
    John Lunt says:

    People tend to do things like get T-shirts if it’s a “one time” deal. I think if Christians are truly missional we have to get beyond these “one time” act of service and immerse ourselve more regularly with the people we are serving.

    I’m all for the “big” events but I would rather see the establishment of a team that are doing something missional in an area on a regular basis.

    It’s not about who gets the credit. It’s about the Kingdom of God and our King.

  3. carlou2
    carlou2 says:

    In churches, it is easy to get caught up in it just becoming a business and lose sight of the purpose and goal. Team unity and ways of fellowship are of course important, but let's not lose sight of increasing the Kingdom.

  4. Unknown
    Unknown says:

    Yes this is true, sometimes it might look like we're doing stuff just for publicity for the church, but sometimes I wonder if we need to double-check our motives. Are we truly doing this to serve God and to bless other people? Or might we have some selfish motives behind it? We might not, but I think we do need to be careful sometimes.

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