Jesus was very clear, from his example and his words, that serving the Kingdom of God means more than just preaching. Through his example and through his teaching, he challenges us not just to talk about our faith, but to put it into action by caring for the poor, the sick and those suffering from injustice.

It is not enough for the church to preach the good news of the gospel in the hope that people will come to hear it. Jesus wants us to go out into our towns, cities and villages, declaring the good news and to ‘be good news’. Most of the disciples had little education – they included fishermen and labourers. Jesus did not train experts in understanding people’s problems. He trained ordinary people of faith to continue his work – people who long for the Kingdom of God to come on this earth. Jesus inspired the disciples by his teaching and example and then sent them out to share the good news without their own food, money or equipment. In the same way today, ordinary Christians can share that same inspiration and go out to transform their communities.

  • Read James 2:14-17. Discuss how well our faith is shown through practical action and caring.
    • What are the key practical needs experienced by people here?
    • What does this teaching challenge us to do in our community?
  • Read Mark 6:7-13. Discuss how Jesus equipped the disciples before sending them out.
    • Did the disciples understand who Jesus really was when they were first sent out? How well did they know him?
    • How did Jesus prepare them for this work?
    • What resources did they need?
    • Why do we think the disciples were sent out in pairs?
  • As a church, do we sometimes delay taking action and showing genuine love until we are ready? Does this matter?
    • What might be the results of such delay?
  • How would our church respond if people who were very poor and dirty or who spoke a different language, for example, began to come to our services? What other kinds of people might prove challenging to fit into our present services or way of worship?
  • Do we expect new people in our church to fit into our ways of worshipping and living before we really welcome and care for them? How could we be more welcoming to poor people or those of different cultures?
  • Sometimes as Christians we can be unaware of how others around us are suffering. We think we understand – but we lack experience and insight. Consider a really challenging situation that people in our community experience. This could be nursing someone who is dying of AIDS, caring for a child with disabilities, working long hours in a factory or in the fields, or sleeping out at night on the streets. As a group, consider the realities and difficulties they would experience. You may like to invite someone in such a situation to come and share with you. What have you learned about their life and their particular needs? How could we respond?