Several public school teachers were so stunned by the church’s support that they were near tears. When I asked why this touched them so deeply, one of them told me, “We thought you didn’t like us. This is the only time in my two decades of teaching that I’ve heard anything from a local church other than complaints.”
How can we reach our communities if they have no idea we love them? And how will they know we love them if we don’t work alongside them?
3. It Bursts Our Church-World Bubble
Church people tend to see one set of problems, challenges and sins. Unchurched people often see an entirely different set.
When we break out of our bubble of preconceptions and work alongside unchurched people, we have a better chance of meeting the needs and healing the hurts they’re actually feeling, not just the ones we think they have, or should be feeling.
Besides, not only did Jesus live outside the bubble, his greatest criticism was against those who refused to leave it.
4. It Shakes Up Our Comfort Zone
I like my comfort zone. It’s comfortable.
But it’s also enticingly dangerous.
Hanging around fellow believers is easy. Too easy.
Being comfortable and easy makes me lazy.
When we work alongside our secular counterparts, we have to be more conscious of what we say, how we act and how we represent Christ to them.
We might have to engage in conversations with people who express ideas we won’t hear in church. And we might have to listen more than we talk. For a pastor, that might be the most uncomfortable thing of all.
But it’s a discomfort that can drive us to be better, more Christlike examples. It’s certainly better than yelling at people we disagree with on Facebook.
5. They'll Help Us Reach People We Can't Reach
One of the groups our church works with is a shelter for abused women and children. Some of them have been abused by men claiming to be Christians. Those women will not seek out a church for help.
But when we show up at their non-faith-based shelter to help clean, repair, paint and otherwise improve their modest living conditions, we get to show Jesus’ love to people who would never look for it in a church.
6. It's Less Self-Serving
When we only partner with fellow Christians – especially when we limit it to our denomination – we usually get some kind of missions credit for it.