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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fellowship, Serving, Missions and Good Works

In organizing a group for the purpose of doing mission projects, I've come to find out that there is a lot of confusion between 4 very different activities. Christian Fellowship. Serving in your church home. Doing mission work. And doing "good works".

In the research I've done, I have found that all are mandated in the Bible. And that EVERY Christian is expected to do ALL four as an every day part of their lives in Christ.

Christian fellowship is the 'gathering' of believers for companionship/enjoyment, education and encouragement. It is Sunday school, community groups, a bunch of Christian friends having a bar-b-q, youth group going to a theme park, a Bible study, two believers meeting for lunch...

Serving is your responsibility as a member of a group of believers (a "church") to give of yourself in support of the church. You serve by being a part of the team doing the work needed for the church service to happen. The Sunday School teachers. The ushers and greeters. The worship team. Office volunteers. The guy that makes the coffee. Picking your trash up off the floor before you leave. In serving you are giving to your particular church.

Missions is going out AWAY from your church and doing something that either brings the gospel of Jesus to nonbelievers or is a supporting action to those who are spreading the Word. The purpose of missions is to let other learn about Jesus. I was pretty ticked when at my former church the youth pastor decided a grand "mission" trip would be to take the youth to Disney World. When told this was NOT a mission trip, he attempted to justify it (with a grin and a wink) by saying "We will hand out tracts as we wait in lines!" Sorry dude, that is a fellowship trip... not missions.

I'm also finding out that another "trend" with mission activities is the belief that once an activity is finished, those participating need to be "rewarded" for doing it. Especially among those who work with youth. Excuse me? Isn't being a part of God's plan for this earth reward enough?? Fellowshipping afterwards over a burger is one thing (a good thing) but expecting to do something like going to a water park is another entirely different thing.

And good works are when you do activities that have a positive impact on your community or even the world but these activities do not result in the spreading of the gospel. This is the one I personally need to be more aware of when selecting activities. Christians doing "good things" is not missions. For example, our ladies mission group is participating in the Komen Race for the Cure. And we were thinking of it as a mission activity, especially since we have church members who are fighting this battle. But when you think about it, there is nothing to do with missions in this activity. Good works...yes. Fellowship... yes. Missions...no.

We are supposed to do good works. But we are also called to be good stewards of that which has been given us (money, time, energy, resources). My personal take on that is that a majority of what we do should be directly related to proclaiming His Word. And a few activities should fall under that good works umbrella... and while we are doing them, we need to make sure that those watching can at least see Christ in our actions.

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