Jesus Healed Them Anyway

In Luke 6 we get three groups of people. It starts with Jesus’ disciples. From that group Jesus selects the 12 apostles. After that selection, Jesus and all his disciples go out to the plain to preach. When he gets there the crowd grows from just being Jesus, his apostles and other disciples to also including people from surrounding towns and regions. There is the third group, the crowd. They aren’t Christ-followers. They show up when convenient and when Jesus is done or they find it convenient, they go back home. Luke tells us the crowd came for three reasons: to hear Jesus, to be healed of disease and to be delivered from evil spirits.

These guys came, got their healing, heard a little preaching and went home. They didn’t immediately follow Jesus. Jesus healed them anyway. I can’t tell you how many times that I have reached out to people I initially encountered through benevolence ministry. In the back of my mind I am always wondering if this person will become a Christian through our acts of compassion. Most of the time they don’t. Most of the time they just want a bill paid or some food and then, like the crowds Jesus healed, they leave. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus showed compassion and mercy to people who would never become disciples and so should we.


Church Pantry Ideas – Food Planters

Nooma #23 – Corner

There is a ministry in our area called Five and Two food. They make it their business to make sure hungry people get fed. Dave, who works with this ministry, had a couple of ideas for our pantry that I thought I would pass on because it is so practical and others might benefit from this information.

The first idea that I thought was outstanding was for church members to dedicate a row in their personal garden to the church pantry. Pantries rarely have fresh produce because it is typically expensive to acquire and doesn’t have a long shelf life. This would take some coordination to make sure the pantry didn’t get overwhelmed with food it couldn’t do anything with. Encourage members to give some of this out that day to the struggling in their neighborhood or the homeless they drive by on a regular basis. We haven’t decided to do this one yet at Northwest but hopefully we will in the next year or so.

The second idea was to build a food planter on the church grounds. We are going to pursue this one. Our 20s & 30s class is going to help maintain this food plot and our church pantry will use this fresh produce to supplement the canned goods we already give out on a weekly basis.

What ideas have you seen work well for the food pantry where you worship?

Benevolence Ministries in the Church – 2

What do people really need?

In the previous post on Benevolence in the Church Rex mentioned a discussion about which is more important, saving people from sin vs. saving people from poverty. I have to agree with Rex in saying that it is not an either or. It is a both and. Jesus didn’t walk around only saying, “I forgive you and you and you.” He also healed, made clean, restored people back to their society and community by crossing ritual purity boundaries and bringing them back/restoring them. Jesus was concerned about whole people with a multiplicity of needs. It is not a platonic dualism of physical and spiritual. Jesus was concerned about the whole person. Because of that benevolence needs to be about assessing a variety of needs (physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, etc) in order to reach the whole person. We shouldn’t throw money at a problem and hope it will go away on its own. We also shouldn’t try to save the poor without an added concern that their physical and emotional/psychological needs are addressed as well.

When people ask questions like, “Which would you choose to help the soul or poverty?” I cannot help but think that is the question of someone who wants an excuse to keep on being ambivalent toward the poor. That is a problem. When people lose their compassion to help the needy they no longer identify with the ministry and mission of Christ.

Benevolence Ministries in the Church – 1

Let’s start this series with a couple of questions:

  1. what has been your experience with benevolence ministry?
  2. What has worked well and what has needed improvement?
  3. How have you balanced being discerning with compassion?
  4. How do you define what someone is genuinely in need of?
  5. Do you assess more than just financial needs?
  6. What kind of follow up is necessary (type, frequency, etc)?
  7. Do you provide financial counseling (how to budget, how to find a better job, resume prep, etc)?
  8. Is this solely at the discretion of the elders and deacons (e.g. you don’t need to personally help people outside your Sunday contribution because the elders have already budgeted to use some of that to help others)?

What are your thoughts?