…”that they may all be one… so the world may believe.” (John 17:21 NASB)
Why is PR Important? To accomplish Jesus’ great mission, He laid down a key principle along with a command. ”A new command I give you, that you love one another as I have loved you… By this all men will know that you are My disciples.” (John 13: 34-35 NASB). Here’s His principle: present a positive image and a united front to the world and they will believe in you and in Me.
We aren’t to witness but be His witnesses. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8, NIV). We can light up the world and be salt to the earth when our conduct among ourselves exhibits his love. When we fail to show mutual love and respect to each other, our light loses its glow and our salt loses its taste. We not only undermine our witness, we disrespect Christ and grieve His Spirit.
What Grieves the Holy Spirit? “…do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live….Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander… Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Eph. 4: 30-32 NLT). Does this leave room for divisions and quarrels over doctrines? His apostles understood the need for good PR. They applaud churches for good reputations (Rom 1:8; 16:19; 1 Thess. 1:8) and exhort them to, “win the respect of outsiders” (I Thess. 4:12, NASB). A major qualification of a church leader is to have a good rep. (Acts 6: 2; 1 Tim 3: 2, 7; 5:10; Titus 1:6; 3 John 1:12).
When lost neighbors witness our mutual love, they will see us as the real deal. Our agape with each other validates our witness. But without a united front, we fail as His witness.
Our Growing PR Problem
Pastors report unbelieving neighbors tend to write off the church or ridicule her. Here are some reasons why:
- Neighboring congregations rarely cooperate but they do compete.
- Christians either cling to denominational ties or brag of their “independence.”
- Struggling churches slog along, unwilling to pool resources with others that struggle
- Local churches worry over their survival more than their lost neighbors.
- We are divided into thousands of splinter groups, often quarrelling over doctrines.
Does it Work? We know obedience to Christ in this matter works. Early believers, by the power of Holy Spirit, made it work. Luke records how First Church Jerusalem distinguished herself from First Church Main Street. We read of frequent healings, startling answers to prayer, a joyful camaraderie, provision for needy brethren, spirited worship, and good PR. “enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily…. (Acts 2:47 NIV) Wouldn’t you have loved being members of that church? Let’s do it again.