Retooling: Who Should Know The Poor Better Than The Church?


The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXXV

Jesus said that we will always have the poor, but he always hung out with the poor, the misfits of society, the outcasts.  His selection of the 12 men, every day people, to be his intimate disciples wasn’t very kosher compared to what a Jewish man had to do if he went through the rabbinical system of Jewish training and the weeding out of “undesirables”.  Even Mother Teresa found herself immersed in the poor, taxing her faith.  Who is responsible for taking care of the poor?

I just returned from an in-service day at my school district where we looked at the bias, prejudice, and stereotyping in our district as well as those facing poverty.  The poverty workshop made me think.  The presenter asked, “Recently, a family in our district had their house burned to the ground.  What resources do you know would be available to them?”  “The Red Cross” became the immediate response of the group, then “churches”, and after some pause of silence, “maybe the local community”. 

The first thing we thought about was what government agencies are available to meet this need.  Our first inclination was social services and the Red Cross.  “Church” came up, but what happens if the ones burnt out did not attend church?  Who becomes their advocate?  Of course the response, the “community”, made me question myself, “who is their community”?

The Christian faith is all about relationships, personally with our Savior, Jesus, and corporately with the Church, the body of believers in Jesus.  A church should be a community of believers.  If relationships are being built, it is a lot easier to reach out to our neighbor if we share the resources we have.

What resources does the church have?  Temporary shelter, food, and clothing met through a Benevolent Fund?  What about long term?  This is where the pastoral passion of service becomes effective, meeting every day needs with every day solutions while teaching every day spiritual principles of trusting in the Father to meet our needs while building up trust through faith.  The evangelistic spirit can bring hope, a newness, a rebirth after the devastation of a tragedy. The teaching spirit and prophetic spirit can work together by guiding one through life’s trials with spiritual principles, allowing the written Word, the Bible, to become the Rhema or living word.  The apostolic spirit can take one in need under his wing, under his covering, seeing over their circumstances, and releasing those to serve them who can best meet their needs.

If the Church is to have an impact with power and influence in the 21st Century, the five fold thrust of ministry is a viable option!  Many different needs can be met through many different passions if done in unity with the purpose of service.