INTRODUCTION: Adapted with permission from Becoming a Church That Makes a Difference CD-ROM, by Heidi Unruh and Phil Olson (Network 9:35, 2006), www.esa-online.org. 
Scripture provides us these foundational principles for how the Church lives out its faith in the world.

1. Following Jesus means putting our faith in action (Luke 6:46-49) 

  • As Christ gave himself for us, we are called to sacrificial servanthood (Matthew 16:24, Ephesians 5:2). 
  • Jesus commissions his followers (John 20:21) to continue his kingdom work of restoring those who are broken in body, soul and spirit (Luke 4:18-19).

2. If we love God, we will love people "in actions and in truth" (1 John 3:18, 4:7-8) 

  • The Great Commandment and the Great Commission link the passionate love of God, servant-love of neighbor, and the mandate to make disciples (Matthew 22:38-39, 28:19).
  • The neighbors we are to love include those who need mercy (Luke 10:36-37), who are sinners (Matthew 9:10-13), who are different from us (Colossians 3:11), and who are enemies (Matthew 5:44).

3. Proclaiming and demonstrating God's love in action go hand-in-hand. (Luke 9:2)

  • Jesus' ministry modeled a blend of word and deed—preaching good news, healing the sick, and breaking the power of evil (Matthew 9:35).
  • Actions without words are insufficient (Romans 10:14), but words without actions lack credibility (Luke 7:20-22). The church's good deeds amplify its witness, drawing people to the light (Matthew 5:16).

4. God cares for the whole person. (James 2:15-18) 

  • God's love brings deliverance and wholeness in every area of our lives (Deuteronomy 7:8-13).
  • If we love our neighbors, we will not seek to win their souls while neglecting other areas of need (Luke 13:16), nor meet their physical needs but fail to offer spiritual care (Matthew 9:1-6).

5. God desires individuals to live in healthy communities and just societies. (Jeremiah 29:7)

  • God's ultimate plan includes the restoration of cities (Isaiah 61:4), cultures and nations (Revelations 7:9, 22:2), the environment (Isaiah 41:17-19), and all creation (Colossians 1:19-20).
  • God's design for communities involves shalom (wholeness) in every dimension of life—physical, economic, relational, environmental, and spiritual well-being (Isaiah 65:17-25).

6. God has a special heart for those who are poor and vulnerable. (Jeremiah 22:16)

  • God identifies with those in need: "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord" (Proverbs 19:17). "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).
  • God's anger is aroused by those who take advantage of the powerless for their own profit (Amos 8:4-7), as well as by those who have plenty, yet neglect people in need (Ezekiel 16:46).

7. God's people are to be an instrument of blessing to the world. (Genesis 12:2)

  • God's people are commanded to be open-handed toward those in need (Deuteronomy 15:10-11), to practice justice and compassion (Zechariah 7:9-10), and to be "rich in good deeds" (1 Timothy 6:18).
  • As the "aroma of Christ" (2 Corinthians 2:15), the church offers the world a foretaste of the goodness of God's kingdom to be fulfilled in the life to come.

8. The church's ministry is incarnational. (John 1:14)

  • Following Jesus' example, the church is called to enter into human brokenness and redemptively embody God's presence (Philippians 2:1-8).
  • God works through relationships. We share God's transforming love and power not just by giving material aid, but also by sharing who we are in Christ (Acts 3:6).

9. The Spirit empowers us to participate in ministry. (Ephesians 2:10)

  • God gives each believer gifts to share within and beyond the church (1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10).
  • We rely on God for the wisdom and endurance (Colossians 1:9-11), power (Ephesians 3:17-18), authority (Luke 10:19), strength (1 Peter 4:11), hope (Romans 15:13), and love (1 Thessalonians 3:12) to be fruitful.

10. The church's ministry is the work of the kingdom of God. (Luke 10:9)

  • The kingdom brings repentance (Matthew 4:17) and transformation (Colossians 1:13). Kingdom workers are aligned with the poor (Luke 6:20), the persecuted (Matthew 4:10), and the humble (Matthew 18:4).
  • The church's ministry is guided by the question, "What does it mean for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?" (Matthew 6:10)

 

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