Can Christian service be done outside of the church? What opportunities are there for Christian service?
Opportunities to serve Christ are not limited to what takes place among gatherings of Christians. God calls us to serve Him in many ways. As Colossians 3:17 teaches, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
In fact, in Mark 9:41 Jesus taught, "For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward." No act of service is too small. The woman who anointed Jesus with oil was ridiculed by others. Jesus said to leave her alone; "she has done what she could" (Mark 14:8).
In addition to a wide variety of ministry opportunities within the local church, God offers many examples of service beyond the local congregation. Of great importance is missionary activity that takes the gospel message to those who have yet to hear (Acts 13:1-5; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
Further, many forms of humanitarian service can offer tremendous help to others while opening opportunities to share faith. These can include the areas mentioned in Matthew 25 in which Jesus calls people to serve the "least of these" that include: "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me" (vv. 35-36). Related ministries today could include service to the hungry, providing clean water for those without, homeless outreach, urban ministry, services to immigrants or refugees, anti-trafficking work, providing clothing for people, engaging in fair trade, employment assistance/micro-enterprise, medical ministry, hospice care, prison ministry, or service to law enforcement as a minister or chaplain.
The Bible also often emphasizes the importance of education, caring for children, and service to widows. James 1:27 even teaches, "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." Personal purity and service to those in need are considered high priorities for the believer.
A final example can be seen in the account of the Good Samaritan. The man who stopped to help was considered the one who was a neighbor to the man in need. Jesus said, "You go, and do likewise" (Luke 10:37). The application is that believers are to find those in need and make an effort to serve based on those needs.
Many roles exist for Christians to serve beyond the church's internal ministries. Scripture offers numerous examples, yet God often places needs right in front of us where we can use our gifts, abilities, and resources to help those in need.
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