In Matthew 5:14, Christ calls us the light of the world and a city on a hill. He told Simon Peter that the gates of hell would never prevail against His Church (Matthew 16:18) and He later said that people would know we are his followers based on how we love one another (John 13:35).
When Christ spoke of the Church, it was with authority; strength, hope, and life. On one hand, He spoke of something that was unmatched in its fortitude, able to withstand fiery assaults. On the other hand, he talked about something humble and lowly; reflecting on serving and loving.
Your people, your location and your church is unique. Your surrounding community is uniquely impacted by your mission and vision.
Some churches inherited the community that they're a part of. While at one time their location was intentional, now it's more because of their history that keeps them where they are. They've been in their communities long enough to see families grow up; businesses come and go. They’ve become a part of the landscape; changing with their community while also holding steadfast to their mission. Other churches have been planted as part of their community, intentionally setting their sites on a city or neighborhood — even a cross street — and building their mission around it.
Regardless of whether your location is by legacy or by design, the role that your unique church community plays in your neighborhood — whether a hundred-year-old congregation or a newly established plant — is its own reflection of the words that Christ spoke 2000 years ago.
You are a light in a dark place; a city on a hill that others can see and find hope and direction. You are stronger than any of the fiery attacks that come against you. You are called to love more than any other calling.
It won’t be the volume of our voices or the blueprints of our buildings that make us stand out to the world around us. It ultimately won’t be our sleek or modern worship spaces or our grand entrances. At least not in the long run. What transforms our communities and makes them places of hope, redemption, and restoration will be our ability to live out what Christ says about us and to reflect His heart for people.
It’s the church’s job to be a light in a very dark world. It’s the church’s job to be a city on a hill that is not hidden, knowing that even hell itself doesn’t stand a chance against it. And the more you can do that as a church body, the more you can see the kind of impact that leaves communities hopeful, redeemed and restored.
It can be hard to know how to move forward as a church. For decades we’ve been helping churches find their mission, stay on course, navigate change, create and carry out plans, and bring their communities along with them.