How Do We Serve the Common Good?

In our last post, we learned that when we have both compassion and capacity, we have transformation. We continue our core values series on the common good by asking, how do we serve the common good?

The Oikonomia Network recently released a substantial minibook, Economic Wisdom for Churches: A Primer on Stewardship, Poverty, and Flourishing. Charlie Self, director of city development, wrote a short essay to help us understand how to serve the common good. Read an excerpt from it below:

We serve the common good (by) rejoicing in good work, promoting reconciliation, and standing up for justice.

Looking forward with purpose to Monday morning is vital for discipleship, human flourishing, and the common good. Understanding our daily work as part of God’s economy and appreciating the “pebble in the pond” impact of our simple tasks are transformative for how we see our lives and discipleship. Imagine if Sunday worship celebrated daily work as well as the volunteers in church programs or local and foreign missions, and if discipleship focused on outcomes that integrate discipleship in our whole life’s work, fusing prayer, Bible study, and daily service. (Romans 5:1-5, 1 Peter 1)

Peacemaking (promoting reconciliation)…overflows as former enemies reconcile and people make friends across the divides of our fallen and polarized world. The call to be peacemakers does not mean that pastors and churches should interject themselves into every conflict. It does mean that congregants and leaders should be aware of all that helps people and communities thrive, and unashamedly become informed and involved wherever they can be constructive. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)

The call for justice is a common one within the church, and concern for just economic and social structures is not only a vital part of the common good but a vital part of the local church’s mission. Are we helping single parents find justice in the courts? Are we working for economic opportunities, educational improvements, and access to healthy foods? Are we looking for ways to increase sustainable economic activity, especially for the un- and underemployed? A kingdom-minded church will be thrilled to commission members to work with or create new agencies to help solve intractable problems and equip members to seek justice in everyday life. (Micah 6:8)

How is your church serving the common good? Are you celebrating the work of your congregants? Are you promoting reconciliation? Are you seeking justice in everyday life?

If your church or a church you know is actively serving the common good, consider submitting a paper in preparation for our common good conference, CG2017.

Topics: Common Good

About the Author

Charlie Self serves as director of learning communities at Made to Flourish. Charlie is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. He has served as an associate and senior pastor in several congregations in California, Oregon and Washington, D.C., and has served as an interim pastor six times. He currently also serves as professor of church history at The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, where he teaches courses in apologetics, church history, mission history, leadership development, and discipleship. He is also co-developer of discipleship dynamics, a new research-based tool for churches and individuals to assess the effectiveness of their discipleship programs. Charlie is the author of three books: The Divine Dance, The Power of Faithful Focus (with co-author Les Hewitt) and his most recent work with The Acton Institute, Flourishing Churches and Communities: A Pentecostal Primer on Faith, Work and Economics for Spirit-Empowered Discipleship. He has an M.A. in history on the church and social change in Latin America (1992) and Ph.D. in modern european history, with foci on Belgian Protestantism and studies in virtue ethics and the holocaust (1995), from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He also has an M.A. in philosophical and systematic theology from The Graduate Theological Union and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. Charlie is married to Kathleen, a professional artist, and they have been married and on mission for 36 years. They have three adult children.