Scripture passages that shape our church on this topic:
Jesus and the New Testament church evangelized the lost
Jesus: “Just then someone came up and asked Him, Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16).
New Testament Church, Philip: “So those who were scattered went on their way preaching the message of good news. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them.” (Acts 9:4-5).
Paul: “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent.” (Acts 17:30).
Jesus and the New Testament church conducted themselves in a respectful way before outsiders, taking opportunities to share God’s truth.
Jesus: “Then He told her (Syropheoenician woman), Because of this reply, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” (Mark 7:29).
New Testament Church: Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.” (Col. 4:5-6).
New Testament Church, Paul: “Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.” (Tit. 3:1).
Jesus and the New Testament church served the poor financially in their midst.
Jesus: “Since Judas kept the money- bag, some thought that Jesus was telling him, Buy what we need for the festival, or that he should give something to the poor.” (John 13:29).
New Testament Church, James: “If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.” (Jas. 2:15-17).
New Testament Church, Paul: “They asked only that we would remember the poor, which I made every effort to do.” (Gal 2:10).
“Getting out of the starting blocks”, steps to getting off the ground this year:
- Find an organization that people from your church already volunteers with and have a special offering for them.
- Find a church in your area or relational network who is active in evangelism and service and learn from them.
- Cancel regular church activities some week and ask everyone to find a way to serve. Provide a list of suggestions.
What we do:
We have about a dozen coordinators to recruit and connect volunteers from our church with various ministries in our community. Examples are foster care, adoption, crisis pregnancy center, ministry for homeless, ministry to families that have children with special needs, and prison ministry.
Key Lessons to Share:
- Our tendency is to have a full menu of options so that every possible need in our community can be addressed and opportunity for every possible motivation to serve can be provided. It is probably better to have more focus and commitment on fewer ministries.
- Work on honoring those in your congregation who already are actively serving in the community. If the only serving that is done by your church is organized by your staff, that is a sign that the people in your church need to be released and motivated to do more.
- In our culture we are drowning in materialism. It is very difficult to see people’s needs as lack of material things and not lack of community. Our tendency is to see any problem as lack of money and any solution as giving more money.
- Sometimes people find it easier to match government program philosophy of formal impersonal approaches to meeting needs. This should be resisted and replaced with messy heavily relational approaches. We try to projects where participants do not get to know the people they are serving. We try to avoid give-aways where church members give items or money to a central location and these items are distributed without any real relational interaction.
Other Posts on this Topic
- Budgeting for “the least of these”
- A small investment now pays off big in the future: third grade literacy
- Ideas to Handle Christmas Charity Giving
- Expanding the services that you can offer those in need
- Kingdom of God: Making the invisible visible
- 11 Ways to Love Your City
- The global poverty rate had been cut in half in 20 years. Which aid agency did that?
- Connection between marriage and poverty
Helpful Books on this Topic:
Lawrence M. Mead was one of the theoretical architects of welfare reform of the 1990’s. This book focuses on identifying the cause of poverty and the cure.From Prophecy to Charity is worth reading for those whose aim is to develop the objectives of organizations and governments seeking that provide services for the poor. It is a short book, 108 pages, and should be regarded as a brief introduction from a public policy perspective to the topic of poverty.
Pastor Tim Keller has combined his experience with mercy ministries New York, his ability to communicate, and sound biblical teaching to produce an essential guide for churches who are developing their ministry to the poor. Keller opens by stating that, “Mercy to the full range of human needs is such an essential mark of being a Christian that it can be used as a test of true faith.” I would recommend this book for any church leader who is developing a ministry of mercy or any believer who has a vision for expanding ministries of mercy in his or her local church.
Book Review: To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel, Whole City by Eric Swanson, Sam Williams, 5 Stars
Since 2007, more people live in cities around the world than in rural areas for the first time in history. This trend is unlikely to change. To Transform a City: Whole Church, Whole Gospel moves beyond the call to evangelism or even church planting in the cities. The authors describe a whole new measure of church health: the health of the city. This book is worth reading. You’ll find yourself wanting to buy copies and give them to others who have a vision for reaching their whole city or those who know that a healthy church’s ministry should be much more than programs at the church building for its members.
It normally doesn’t occur to good-hearted people that charity can cause harm. For many, the solution to a need is to simply give a gift. The need is eliminated isn’t it? Robert Lupton points out that gifts that are indiscriminately and regularly given erode the recipient’s personal dignity and initiative. A more useful approach is to take the time to understand and address the root causes of the need in community rather than just temporarily meet the needs of individuals. If you are involved in any kind of ministry to the needy or are considering getting involved, this book is worth reading.
Other topics in this series:
- Mobilize and educate the church to serve outside of its walls and lead them in praying for the nations
- Strategically allocate the church’s missions funds
- Select, promote, coordinate, train, lead, and debrief short-term missions trips
- Recruit, select, train, send, and support long-term missionaries from our church
- Create and coordinate evangelism and service projects in our community
- Recruit, develop, and send church planters from my church