God designed us to make a difference in this world and to make an impact on our lives. He wants us to leave the world in a better situation than when we came into it. There’s only one way to do that . . . it is by serving others. We can’t serve God without serving others. That’s why Jesus said, “If you want to be great, learn to be the servant of all.” Serving others through the Church of Jesus Christ is what the PEACE Plan is all about, and its reason for being.
The Church: The Hope of the World!
Our world faces seemingly insurmountable difficulties – war and conflict, corrupt leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases and crippling illiteracy. These devastating problems affect billions, not millions of our fellow human beings. The public and private sectors attempt to find lasting solutions but have little to show for their efforts.
We believe that the missing component is the faith community – the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus promised that he would build his church and even the powers of hell could not take it down. With a guarantee this powerful, the church of Jesus Christ is able to have a unique impact on the world, making a contribution unlike any other organization. The church can promote reconciliation, equip servant leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation. Truly the church is the hope of the world!
The church has seven distinctives:
THE LARGEST PARTICIPATION
There are 2.1 billion members of the church worldwide, which is one third of the world’s population. The church is bigger than any nation or organization. There is an enormous amount of untapped talent, brains, energy, and relationships already in place in local churches that could be mobilized for service. These church members already have credibility and trust in their community and they already know the language. Imagine the possibilities if even half of this gigantic volunteer labor force could be mobilized!
Rather than starting another relief organization or non-profit, or investing our resources in an existing non-profit, we believe that lasting change can happen if local churches get connected to each other and start working together.
THE WIDEST DISTRIBUTION
There are millions of local churches scattered across the globe; they are in every corner of the world. The church is more widely distributed than any business franchise – more than all the Walmarts, Starbucks, and McDonalds combined. Through this unique distribution channel of local churches, information, training, resources and relief can be easily disseminated.
It is important to distinguish between short-term relief efforts and long-term community development. Short-term relief in a crisis is necessary and biblical. Galatians 6:2 clearly says to “carry each other’s burdens.” Yet Galatians 6:5 says “each one should carry his own load.” The difference between a burden and a load is comparable to the difference between a backpack and a boulder; each person must carry his/her own backpack, yet no one can carry a boulder alone.
This is precisely the distinction between relief and development. Relief is essential when circumstances are too great to be handled by the local church alone. Even in situations that require relief, long-term community development should remain the end goal. Building capacity in the local church will empower them to handle situations that are currently overwhelming once the crisis is past and normal life resumes.
THE SIMPLEST ADMINISTRATION
For many years, Christian relief organizations have served the needs of a community by using a “church-based” approach. “Church-based” strategies often mean, “We will operate our program and base it in your church.” An important distinction needs to be made between approaches that are “church-based” and those that are “church-initiated.” A “church-initiated” approach means the goals, strategy, etc. are determined by the local church rather than an outside organization. When the local church claims responsibility for an issue in their community, it is valued and owned by the local church. This enables other public and private partners to come alongside and assist the local church on their initiatives when the burden is too large for their church to carry it alone.
THE FASTEST EXPANSION
The Church is growing at 60,000 converts a day! The Church is even growing faster than the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is growing by 11,000 new infections every day. To stop an epidemic, there must be something that grows even faster. The church is the answer. No other organization can match that growth!
THE LONGEST CONTINUATION
The church has been in existence for 2000 years, longer than any nation, business or organization. It will be in existence until Jesus returns!
THE STRONGEST AUTHORIZATION
In the Great Commission, Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to you, therefore go…” With authority comes power! God has given us his authority and his power to go and share the hope that is only found in him. No man-made organization has given us the mandate to go into all the earth; our authority comes from God.
THE HIGHEST MOTIVATION
We are God’s representatives in the world, and we serve the least of these in his name. Because he loves, we love. Governments can’t love, businesses can’t love, but the church of Jesus can love. Others serve for a variety of reasons – many of them good reasons – but the highest motivation is out of love.
The church, with all of its flaws, is still God’s chosen way of getting his work done. We have the privilege of making the invisible God visible (Col. 1:15) to a hurting world through our service.