“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NIV)
One of my dreams is to see every local church as a church of infectious influence. The word infectious means “quickly affecting or spreading to others” Pocket Oxford Dictionary. Imagine that. Think of what it would be like if local churches affected their cities with the love of Jesus Christ. That would be a “virus” worth catching! That would be an “epidemic” everyone would be talking about!
It’s not beyond the realm of possibility. There’s nothing to prevent a local church (apart from unconfessed sin or apathy) from being a church of infectious influence. A church can be transformational, it can affect people with the Jesus “bug,” it can do all things through Christ who gives it strength (cf. Philippians 4:13).
A clear focus is necessary. If the local church is going to be a church of infectious influence it must understand that it exists to love its city into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The local church can’t exist for itself. It must be a church with more than a mission statement – it must be a church with a mission.
There can be no compromise. The local church must be in the world but not of the world. It must see and act beyond its walls. It must die to doing business as usual, know the importance not just of proclamation but also of demonstration, and make it easier for people to come to Christ than to stay away from Him. In short, the local church must be incarnational. Congregations must be more defined by what they do than by what they say. They must care for the helpless, the hopeless, and the homeless. They must be joyful about everything, one-hundred percent committed to doing things God’s way, and extend the spirit of welcome, healing, and hope.
Tradition cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the church becoming more “go and do” than “come and see.” Comfort zones cannot be allowed to prevent Christ’s Great Commission (cf. Matthew 28:19-20) from becoming an everyday reality in our midst(cf. Acts 2:47). And timidity cannot be allowed to smother God’s plan for the local church to be the “salt and light” of the earth (cf. Matthew 5:13-16).
So where too from here? It starts when each one of us truly believes that God can use us. For this to happen we must see doubts as opportunities for faith to be exercised. Then we must abandon ourselves to God. To be the church of infectious influence we must get so caught up in Jesus that others will see Him being released through us. Let’s look for the kingdom of God to show up in it’s fullness. Let’s celebrate God because He’s God. Let’s be more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics. Let’s have bigger ambitions than ourselves. Let’s love people simply because Jesus loves people. And let’s recognise we continually need the power of the Holy Spirit as we step out to be the church of infectious influence.