Bill Hybels, in his book Courageous Leadership, eloquently states the unique position of the church in our society:
What I discovered [in Washington D. C.] was not how powerful [our elected officials] are, but how limited their power really is. All they can actually do is rearrange the yard markers on the playing field of life. They can’t change a human heart. They can’t heal a wounded soul. They can’t turn a hatred into love. They can’t bring about repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, peace. They can’t get to the core problem of the kid I saw in the airport and millions of others like him.
I scrolled through every other option I could think of, considering what they have to offer. Businessmen can provide sorely needed jobs. Wise educators can teach useful knowledge of the world. Self-help programs can offer effective methods of behavior modification. Advanced psychological techniques can aid self-understanding. And all of this is good. But can any of it truly transform the human heart?
I believe that only one power exists on this sorry planet that can do that. It’s the power of the love of Jesus Christ, the love that conquers sin and wipes out shame and heals wounds and reconciles enemies and patches broken dreams and ultimately changes the world, one life at a time. And what grips my heart every day is the knowledge that the radical message of that transforming love has been given to the church.
That means that in a very real way the future of the world rests in the hands of local congregations like yours and mine. It’s the church or it’s lights out. Without churches so filled with the power of God that they can’t help but spill goodness and peace and love and joy into the world, depravity will win the day; evil will flood the world. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Strong, growing communities of faith can turn the tide of history. They can! Don’t bother looking elsewhere. The church is it.