Imagine the kind of impact your church could have on the community if every member of the congregation committed to doing one act of service every single day. How would your church be known in the community? How would people talk about your congregation? How would this effect your ability to reach non-Christians with the gospel?
Unfortunately, this thought that everyone in our churches would commit to daily service seems impossible. As we will see throughout our study today though we will learn that Christians committing to serve daily is not only possible, it’s vital to the success of the church in 2018 and beyond.
What Happens When You Serve Outside of Sundays
Thousands of Jews from all around the nation of Israel were in Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Pentecost not knowing that this year was going to be much different than all the others. Not long into the week a number of Galileans stood up and preached the good news of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14-40). Thousands responded to the call for salvation and Christ’s church began to take shape (Acts 2:41).
As amazing as all of this was, it’s the last few verses of Acts chapter 2 that intrigue me the most:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
As soon as we are told the church has found its beginnings in the world we are shown its function. Notice the phrase “day by day” used twice here. “Day by day” these Christians gathered together to study, to eat, to share, and to serve. “Day by day” these Christians came together with others to share what they had been told about Jesus. “Day by day” these Christians experienced growth as a result of their continual living for Jesus.
The growth of the early church hinged on two important points: 1) the daily teaching of the gospel and 2) the daily living of the gospel. Note the impact that service had on the growth of the church throughout Acts:
As we already noted, daily service caused the church to grow day by day (2:46-47).
Daily service caused people outside of the church to take note and be amazed at what Jesus could do (3:4-10).
Daily service caused Christians to voluntarily give up everything they had in order to provide for the needs of their fellow brothers and sisters (4:32-35).
Though this passage addresses a problem within Christian service note that Acts 6 tells us about a “daily distribution” the church had for widows. Note also that this daily service again coincides with the increase of the church (6:1).
By Acts chapter 6 we haven’t even left Jerusalem yet and the church is already known for their generous, giving hearts. The first Christians lived out the gospel by serving others every single day they could, and the church grew rapidly as a result.
How You Can Serve Your Community
Earlier I asked you to imagine the impact your congregation could have on the community it is located in if every member committed to doing one act of service every day. If you were able to grasp the idea of every member committing to serving daily your mind probably wandered over to the following question: what act of service is big enough to impact those around us?
We tend to overthink service and what is or is not effective. In truth, the greatest act of service is the one that gets done. It’s fun to dream about what we can do to reach those around us, but the ideas we dream up ultimately accomplish nothing if they never leave our heads and go to our hands. The following are a few ways we can serve between Sundays and grow the church:
Create care baskets for the homeless in your community. Provide them with much needed food, clothing, and water.
Turn an empty room in your church building into a storage room for coats, suits, and other articles of clothing the community could use.
During Spring and Summer go around to houses in the surrounding neighborhoods and offer to mow yards at no cost. In the Fall, offer to rake leaves. In the Winter, shovel driveways and sidewalks.
Provide backpacks full of school supplies to those who cannot afford them.
Host meals around the holiday seasons for those who would not have a holiday meal otherwise.
Take breakfast to the schools in your community each month for all the teachers letting them know how much you appreciate their work.
Provide meals throughout the year to those who serve in the community (police, fire, medical).
Hold open doors for others. Tip well. Stop on the side of the road to help change a tire or jump a car. Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-thru.
There are countless ways we can serve those in our community, these are just a few ideas to get you started. “Day by day” the first Christians served others and “day by day” the church grew. Imagine the growth our churches would see today if we too served between Sundays.
This article originally appeared in Think magazine's "Christianity Between the Sundays" issue in 2018.