The post, by pastor Blaine Crawford, starts by talking about a great way his church connects work with everyday life and everyday ministry:
Every month at Lakeview Community Church, the deacons invite a different organization — one working to improve society — to share its mission, its work, and its volunteer opportunities with the congregation. Representatives from these organizations speak during the worship service, which is followed by a time of prayer for both the speakers and organization as a whole. At the end of the service, we take up a special offering as we financially partner with these organizations.
This tradition started long before I became the pastor at Lakeview, and it’s a ministry that I am proud of. Each month is a new opportunity to learn about an issue affecting our community, how people and organizations are addressing the issue, and avenues for us to partner, both financially and through our talents, in God’s restoration in the world.
Blaine and his colleagues began to think about what was underlying the organizations they chose to honor:
Why do we support these organizations? How do they contribute to human flourishing in our community? What guiding principles do we follow in the selection process?
They came up with three. The first is:
1) Don’t just give a handout; give a hand-up. Those of you who have interacted with Robert Lupton have probably heard him say this before. Yes, relief is important. Yes, meeting immediate needs of food, shelter, and healthcare are important. But without development that follows relief, we perpetuate the cycle of poverty in spite of our best intention.
Right now, they support a mix of institutions: some doing relief work but others doing development work to help people move out of poverty.
2) “The quartet of the vulnerable.”…. refers to the four groups (widows, orphans, immigrants, and the poor) that the Bible teaches us are especially vulnerable to injustice and in need of protection and care. In response to this insight, Lakeview’s deacons have added to our monthly mission slate a missionary in Naples, Italy, who cares for parentless and homeless refugees relocating from Africa and the Middle East. We now consider this new question: who are the most vulnerable in our community, and how might we minister to them?
Blaine challenges us to consider this question as well.
3) “To do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” These words from Micah 6:8 have challenged our deacons to expand the monthly mission ministry. In the past, our primary acts of justice have been to financially support the organizations and ask the representatives to provide opportunities for church members to volunteer. But as we seek to do justice and to love mercy, we’re in the process of organizing church-wide volunteer opportunities.
How can you help your congregation really live into doing mission–whether you are a pastoral leader or part of the congregation? Some good questionsto start discussion are at the KPN site. Food for thought!