The most important part of this area of focus is the word “with.” Too often, we think of ministry “for” the poor, as if it is our job, as those have means, to do things for those that don’t. As a church, we need to be engaged in ministry with the poor. It is not about giving away money. It is about building relationships with our neighbors.
I have said before that “the Kingdom of God exists where the needs of a community intersect with the resources of a loving congregation.”
For a church to be engaged in bringing about the Kingdom of God, it must:
1. Be loving.
2. Know its resources.
3. Know the needs of the community.
The first two seem easy. The first is about motivation. Does the congregation want to make a difference in the world? Many churches are actually more interested in maintaining a building so that they have a place to be buried and married then they are interested in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Yet once a congregation decides they want to transform the world, they must figure out what they are good at. Every Christian has gifts and passions that can be used to serve others. Every Church is made up of gifted Christians that have something to share.
Some churches have great quilting circles. They can create blankets for babies in need. They can sell quilts to raise money for the food pantry. Some churches have a lot of gardners. They can host a Garden Surplus Day, and share the bounty of their harvest with those in need. What are you good at? What do you love to do? Once you figure that out, then it takes time to figure out No. 3.
The third one takes time. It takes energy. It takes building relationships. It means that people in the congregation must be in the community. Where are the poor in your community? Are they in your church? Are they at Wal Mart, MacDonald’s, the community food pantry, the park, school, the tavern? Ask yourself, where are poor people in your community, and how can we work together to make the community better.
Engaging in ministry with the poor was an important part of Jesus’ mission. It must be a part of our mission as a church as well. If you’re wondering how to start, just ask these questions:
1. Are you loving? Do you want to transform the world, or at least the life of one person?
2. What are you good at? What are your passions?
3. How can you use that to help someone else?