Active churches with members who share Christ’s love and compassion with their neighbours should have a positive impact on their community. We are called to be ‘salt and light’ in our communities, so our lives should be a good witness. Our actions should draw in other people.

Share responsibility for taking action with people outside the church. Skills in facilitation can help to ensure good participation. Discussions and plans must be made with community representatives. Give people in the community confidence to make changes that will improve their lives. This way of working may take a lot longer. However, it should result in more sustainable changes and prevent serious mistakes being made through lack of understanding.

The co-ordinating team should select people to meet different needs. Some people will be too busy to help. Some will not want to help because they are afraid, feel inadequate or fear the consequences. However, all church members need to feel a sense of ownership and support the action through prayer. Shared responsibility and ownership, within both the church and the community, should lead to shared satisfaction at results that improve people’s lives.

Discussion 
  • Should a church wait until all its members are agreed and mobilised to work towards helping improve specific issues in the community?
  • Sometimes the problems we experience in our communities are so huge, there seems little the church can do to have any impact. What encouragement is there in the Bible about people who took small steps of faith?
  • Read Acts 2:42-47. What activities and attitudes characterised the life of the early church? What kind of a community was it? How does this compare with our own church community? What can we learn from their example?
  • How can church members share their faith when they are involved with practical work in the community?
  • Read Nehemiah Chapter 2. Nehemiah had a good job as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. This meant he tested the king’s food and wine to check it was not poisoned. The king put a lot of trust in him and Nehemiah was probably a personal advisor to him:
    • Why was Nehemiah afraid (verse 2)? What did he do before answering the king?
    • What had Nehemiah already considered and planned for? What can we learn from this about the way we plan our work?
    • Discuss Nehemiah’s actions during his first week in Jerusalem. How did he use this time? What can we learn from his approach?
  • Read Nehemiah Chapter 3. What does this chapter tell us about the amount of shared participation in the work?
    • How did Nehemiah encourage people to participate (2:17)? What does this say about his leadership skills?
    • Some people rebuilt more than one section of the wall. Why do we think they did this?
    • Nehemiah 3:5 tells us that some people refused to participate in the work. How should we respond to church members who do not want to participate?