- More than a place to meet. Is the church more than a group of people who come to the church building once a week to study God’s word? What are some limitations of a church bound up entirely in meeting the needs of worshipers for a meeting place to present a weekly program of interest to those attending? In 1 Corinthians 12:12-20 we read that serving others as Jesus did is key to meeting His requirements. What are some of the needs of people around us and how can we help meet those needs as a community of believers?
- Agents of change. The church’s first responsibility, according to the early Christian church leader Paul, is to offer spiritual, physical, and even emotional support from God’s abundant supply to those in need around us. How involved is your church in providing this level of support to those who have not yet chosen to sign up with your church organization? In general, do people like to change or think about changing their church affiliation? Out of consideration for a reluctance by non-members to join even in a small way with your local church, are there still ways you can reach out to others and welcome them to join your efforts to serve God in your neighborhood?
- A servant remnant. Consider Moses and his dealings with the people of Israel and then reflect on this: Would you give up your opportunity to be granted full salvation if the church members you are serving are refusing to listen to any and all appeals to follow Jesus? How did Moses deal with the failure of God’s people in the wilderness to pay attention to God’s warnings and counsel? What did Moses desire more than anything from God’s people in the wilderness? Which of the following methods of persuasion need to be followed more carefully in your local church to help develop a stronger body of workers in Christ: preaching, teaching, sharing examples of faith, faithfulness in following God first and always.
- Reaching souls. Does it ever occur to us in our local churches that our work to meet the needs of the sick and infirm among us or our efforts to reach out into the community to support those in need…that these efforts are key to our doing God’s work for His kingdom? Or are we satisfied with the work we and our church is doing to reach people who need a clearer understanding of what Jesus wants from all of us? What are the essential ingredients in reaching souls? “Evangelism,” your lesson author states, “does not make sense in the absence of a passion for people.” Talk about this with fellow believers.
- Grace within the church. Not only the witness of old-time faith believer Job but also the example of you and me in our local church demonstrate to the world around us that God is bestowing grace on His followers in the church. Do you see evidence of that happening in your local church? Share some examples you’ve observed of God’s grace in your church group. God’s grace, justice, and love “should govern all that happens within the church,” our lesson author notes. Do you see any unfilled needs or any unnoticed opportunities for sharing grace and generous loving care by church members or acquaintances? What will you do about meeting those needs?
- Encourage each other. Instead of ending this quarter’s series of lessons with a sweeping apology for all that you might have done for others, why not set specific goals to reach out to others with words of encouragement and care? We all know how impressed we can be when we see a group of fellow believers united in sharing God’s love for others. Starting now, let’s focus on encouraging rather criticizing, on helping others rather than finding fault, and on lifting up the word of God rather than proclaiming what we think God’s will is for us this week and in the weeks and months to come. God bless you.