Since 2017, an increasing number of individuals agree that those in the Church do not behave as Jesus would have. This sentiment has grown. From 2017 to 2021 to include 61 percent of those surveyed strongly or somewhat agree with the statement. To those who strongly agree, doubling since 2017. This should worry us as a church and call attention to ways we can improve our reflection of Christ.
Although emulating Christ is a lifelong endeavor, here are several ways we can recognize and improve our likeness to Christ daily as a church.
CARE FOR THE LOST
First, we need to take an honest look at ourselves and our habits and seek to grow our humility. The focus should never be on prestige, power, or merely growing your church to increase its size. The church should focus on reaching and caring for the lost rather than seeking validation from those already saved. Take an honest look at your church and your operations. Are you a church that would leave the 99 to save the 1? To truly be the hands and feet of Christ, we need to humble ourselves. And strive first to serve others and the lost in need as Jesus did.
Do not exclude others, even unintentionally. While Jesus was on earth, His ministry mainly focused on the outcast and the marginalized in society. Does your church do this as well? Jesus tore down boundaries, and obstacles people had to meet to follow him. What are ways your church can do this for those in your community? Some easy examples are to make sure to offer childcare services so as not to exclude parents who would like to attend but would be unable to without the help of these amenities. Also, offering messages, sermons, and resources online gives easy access to those who may have missed Sunday service. Or those who are seeking more information about the church.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Make sure it’s not about you. When assessing your church’s mission and future plans, it’s best to take a step back to ensure your ideas come from a place of humility and are being led by Christ. Although it may not always be comfortable, Christ never hesitated to reach out and minister to others, even if it seems unconventional or uncomfortable at the time. Don’t be afraid to challenge your congregation. Radically love others and act more like Christ as well. By encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone, you are able to grow together. Ways to encourage your congregation include tithing, volunteering hours at a local charity or church event, and/or hosting a small group by welcoming new members into their homes.
Once you have been able to take an honest look at your church and assess if you’re truly striving to emulate Christ, you can grow and lead your congregation more effectively. Those attending your church will follow by example and although uncomfortable at times, can radically love others in your community as Jesus calls us to do. Once our hearts change, only then can we begin to alter our community’s perception of the church and better illustrate Christ’s love. By inspiring our congregation to be more like Christ, we can show those not attending church the meaning of Christianity and the joy that comes from serving and loving others as Christ loves His church.
Andrew Esparza is the founder of Kingdom Analytics. This company has served over 300+ organizations doing good in the world by helping better connect them to their community, congregation, or customers using advanced demography research. He also has experience in the church world, working for the largest high school ministry in the country at North Point Community Church. Andrew graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Design Management and Tourism Development and is CITI certified in Social and Behavioral Research.