Is Serving the Poor the Christian Mission?

13 07 2008

Update: I’m suspending this post.  A friend has asked that I phrase this as a question and work my theology through more deeply with him before writing such firm convictions so I’ll gladly do that and post later my thoughts after submitting some of these ideas to those I trust.  In the mean time feel free to continue to post your thoughts on the subject so I can gain further insight.

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27 responses

13 07 2008
Gavin Long

JP – I think I see your point, particularly if serving the City does not point to restoring the City to its right relationship to God; however, we cannot forget the ministry of healing and feeding that Jesus Himself conducted. As the Body of Christ, we must incarnate the character of Jesus. Jesus Himself is also very clear about whatever we did to the “least of these.” So, I think this blog needs some clarity because it comes off too aloof from a very present concern and from a powerful SIGN that points to Christ as a Savior. Indeed, the SIGN of serving the poor cannot be the end. But that SIGN is an important pointer that provide attention to the work of our Savior. Jesus often used healing or serving as a sign. Jesus would say, “What is easier for me to say your sins are forgiven or heal?” Jesus would heal and use that to demonstrate the fact that He was indeed a man of authority. He would then forgive sins. Service (or incarnation) and message cannot be separated any more than life and belief.

Too, Keller’s City theme is a Biblical motif that is picked up by the early Church. These ideas get us past our individualistic understandings of the effects of the Gospel. The KINGDOM of God is not solely in the “hearts and minds” of an individual — that is an overly modern position. The KINGDOM of God is justice and peace. When the Gospel is incarnated in the lives of God’s People, things start to be redeemed. As God’s People prayed for the peace and prosperity of Babylon or as early Christians did the same for Rome, so should we. We gain authority through submission and service — not through an agenda. That service simply cannot stop with a humanistic “do good” agenda. That service must be a witness to Christ the Savior, the Great Redeemer of all things. I think that’s the central point that you are making. Service can’t stop with Service. Service must be a SIGN that points to Christ, our King. There is no restoration of a life or a city, if there is no following of Christ. If that is the heart of your message, I whole-heartedly agree. I hope this provides some clarity. If not, forgive me.

Can’t wait to see you this next week.

13 07 2008
theologien

Good post. I’ve wrestled with this idea (though not as cogently as I would like… http://sanscontexte.blogspot.com/2008/07/missions-missional.html), and it pains me what I see in the emerging church. A good idea has been sublimated into the mainstream church, rationalized, and presented as missions or being missional .

What I see is that this is not only taking the place of mission, i.e. “being sent,” it is also is taking the place of spiritual formation. On the average the church I attend will have four or five opportunities for “community service,” but anyone interested in small groups or other aspect of spiritual formation has to go looking in earnest to find those opportunities.

I think that we have lost the idea of call, vocation, and what it really means to be missional. In its place we’ve allowed managerialsim to gut the purpose of missions in favor of a measurable process that we can control and predict.

Yes, the Jewish Scriptures speak to the issue of righteousness and Justice, but they are two sides of the same coin of God’s relationship with his people (social and individual).

Thanks for the post.

13 07 2008
Em

Hi Jer,
I think you’re probably putting this out there to be provocative and so I’m inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. My first question, however, is how you get that from John 12? Am I just reading it wrong, or is Jesus not rebuking Judas because he was a thief. The passage even states that he didn’t care for the poor….so I think it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t rebuking Judas for trying to wipe out poverty….
Secondly, I appreciate your last statement about getting out and doing something rather than talking about service. We have another clear mandate and that is to be known by our love. “Do good to all, especially those in the household of faith” – Gal. 6:10 gets ignored too often when we set our focus of grace and mercy on everyone else except our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are far more likely to sacrifice those in our own faith than we are to serve and love. However, focusing all our attention ONLY on those in the household of faith is equally short-sighted.
You mentioned Keller’s message about serving the city. When the Roman Christians served those dying during the plague they served out of love for the people and for Christ. They were risking their lives for unbelievers who were suffering. There was no training – but love and service……thus influencing an entire empire to turn to Christ.
Lastly, being a disciple means “following Christ”. It is active; it is physical. Christ served the poor…..the unbelieving poor. If we’re actively following Christ we are most certainly called to serve the poor and, in that service, make disciples.
thoughts?
much love,
em

13 07 2008
Jonathan Brink

Jeromy, what I hear you saying is “serving the poor is not our mission, it is an expression of the mission when we follow Jesus.” Is that correct?

If you are saying that, which I would hold as well, then I would be a little careful criticizing people. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading them into that. Part of discipling is calling people to engage thinking outside of themselves and engage God’s mission of restoration (ex: city). The poor are often those in the clearest need. The Old Testament is also a very clear indicator that serving the poor is deeply important.

If you aren’t saying that, then I need clarification.

14 07 2008
eden2zion

Hey Gavin – I 100% agree that if you are in a crowd or in public and the Holy Spirit moves on you to demonstrate the Kingdom through a sign, you do it. I don’t see anywhere in Jesus’ ministry where the sign was service rather the miraculous.

I continue to search for any evidence that serving the city is a biblical method. Seeking the peace of the city you are in is an attitude toward that city that motivates your normal day to day actions of doing business, commerce etc. I don’t see it as a Christian ministry the way Keller seems to envision it (or maybe that is only the way others have interpreted Keller).

And to the point of serving the poor being a sign of the Kingdom, I think biblically that would have to primarily be serving other poorer Christians. It’s our love for one another the world is supposed to see.

In the Bible the signs of the Kingdom seem to lead to this progression –

1. Miraculous
2. Proclamation
3. Repentance
4. Discipleship
5. Redeemed Community

and #5 leads back to #1 again.

What I see people proposing today is –

1. Serving non-Christians
2. Gaining favor
3. Proclamation
4. Missional Community

And #4 leads back to #1. And I’m beginning to wonder now if this whole progression is another distraction to the mission of making disciples because it doesn’t appear to be fulfilling the mission.

14 07 2008
eden2zion

theologien – You make a great point in your post about a missionary being sent vs. our current focus on the mission field. This apostolic ministry needs to be our primary mode of expansion with growth of the local body being the secondary mode of expansion. (local growth is often by addition but apostolic growth tends to be more exponential through multiplication).

Your second point on spiritual formation is the point I’m making here. Your example of a church with clear service opportunities but a confusing discipleship process is a perfect case in point.

14 07 2008
eden2zion

Hey Em, these are three great points and I’ll comment on each –

1. I don’t think Jesus was rebuking Judas for stealing. This was the narrator’s comment (John) about Judas’ true motive, and I’m sure Jesus was aware of it, but he chose to address Judas’ apparent concern for the poor by laying down a universal statement of priority. Judas was, on the surface, placing ministry to the poor above the worship of Christ and when Jesus said, “the poor you will always have with you” this is both prophetic (we won’t wipe out poverty) and an instruction about priorities in the Kingdom.

2. I agree 100% on serving those in the household of faith first but today, as churches want to become missional, if you compared the amount of service they do for non-believers vs. believers it is almost all toward non-believers. Why? because they believe this is HOW you fulfill the mission. And this is what I’m questioning.

3. I was deeply moved by those stories Keller told but we NEED to remember that these are historical accounts not an apostolic mandate and I would deeply question Keller’s assertion that this is why Christianity grew and spread. We know from the book of Acts exactly how Christianity grew and spread and it was through apostolic ministry that was tuned toward making disciples.

14 07 2008
eden2zion

Jonathan – If I can make a distinction between

#1 – someone being led by the Holy Spirit to do an specific act of kindness for a poor person and

#2 – someone architecting a church around being missional which to that leader means serving the poor as the primary means of expanding the Kingdom

I would have no problem with #1 and this post is designed to question #2.

My point is that leaders are leaving the traditional churches because they are insular and ineffective and they are actively seeking a clear mission and when they hear guys like Keller talk about serving the city they architect new churches designed to serve the city as the expression of what missional means.

And I’m trying to say we don’t need to seek a new mission but we have a very clear one in Matthew 28 (as Willard says the Great Omission) and just like the traditional churches have been distracted by their lazy inaction these new churches seem to be distracted by their frenzied “missional” activities and neither appear to be making disciples.

14 07 2008
bluelikeelvis

SERVING is the gospel. SERVING the poor is the gospel.

Old Testament:

Exodus 22:20-27; 23:1-13
Leviticus 14:1-2; 19-22
Job 5:15-16; 36:6; 36:15
Psalm 12:5; 14:6; 34:6; 35:10; 37:14; 40:17; 68:10; 69:29; 69:33; 70:5; 72:2-4; 72:12-14; 74:19; 82:3-4; 86:1; 107:41; 109:31; 132:15; 140:12
Proverbs 31:9
Isaiah 11:4; 14:30; 14:32; 25;4; 29:19; 41:17; 58; 61
Jeremiah 2:34; 20:13; 39:10
Habakkuk 3:14
Amos 2:6; 2:7; 4:1; 5:11-12; 8:4-6

New Testament:

Matthew 5-7
Luke 4:16-21; 7:18-23
Matthew 19:16-30; 25:31-46; 26:6-13
Mark 10:17-31; 14:1-9
Acts 2:17-21; 4;32-37; 10:1-6
Galatians 2:-10

The entire book of James, but I will highlight 1:27:

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

………just off the top of my head.

14 07 2008
Gavin

We’re going to have to disagree on this one. Jesus ministry was not to Christians, there was no such thing. What you are proposing is an entirely insular position and seems to be contrary to Jesus’ disposition of being a city on a hill. You also did not address “what you have done to the least of these.”

But, I think what we really have is a deeper issue, which is a hermeneutic one — use of the NT docs as an ecclesiological handbook. The early NT Church was using the OT Canon has their standard, not to dismiss the NT docs, but I think we need to keep it in context. This conversation takes significant time to sort through and I feel that texts and ideas tossed around too quickly. A topic like this actually requires some scholarship and thorough theological thinking. The ramifications of this discussion are too important to toss around flippantly.

The ministry of Jesus must restore and reconcile the world to God. This issue is a very clear OT Theme. It seems strikingly absent in this conversation. The ethic of Christ’s love seems absent, which I may simply be missing. But fundamentally, I have a problem that an undisciplined conversation around this issue can provide one more excuse for the Church to be indifferent to the “least of these.”

15 07 2008
eden2zion

bluelikeelvis – My question is a narrow one, not if serving the poor reflects the gospel but is it our mission. None of the verses you list suggest that this is our mission.

Most O.T. verses on this topic are referring to the need for justice in Israel.

The N.T. verse you listed from James 1:27 is a PERFECT case in point of how we take individual verses and, without using the rest of Scripture, broaden their interpretation. James refers to this need to care for widows but which widows with how much of our resources? Paul answers this question is 1 Tim. 5 in a way that shocks so many who want to baptize any effort of serving others. He gives commands that the only widows the church should take responsibility for are –

1. believing widows
2. that have a good reputation
3. that have no family support

So, if someone wants to come to your church and start a ministry to non-believing widows as a reflection of the gospel (which will of course require a lot of resources) what should we do? You answer me because this is where I get confused considering Paul’s clear command.

I’m looking for a way to reconcile these things that so many are passing over. I’m a leader in a church and I could very quickly organize major efforts to serve the unbelieving poor around us (and there are MANY) but it will directly draw resources away from discipling. What should I do?

15 07 2008
eden2zion

Gavin – I think we can come to agreement on this (and there is a lot I need to learn in this area)

I have more energy for serving the poor than I’ve had in a long time because I’m seeing it as a spiritual discipline and NOT a mission (you mentioned this is a spiritual discipline in your email and that is my current position).

I’m not suggesting we be insular read this post – https://jeremypryor.wordpress.com/2007/10/09/why-middle-class-christians-neglect-the-poor/ (I’ve been wrestling with this for some time).

I suspended the post because it obviously came across the wrong way (totally my fault). I’m asking if serving the poor should be moved from the category of mission to spiritual discipline (that’s what I should have written).

To your question regarding the least of these I addressed this in the post when I referred to Matt. 25 and how this series of activities, visiting the sick, imprisoned, etc. should be a constant discipline for every Christian starting with believers in those states.

Our family is organizing efforts to do this and it seems to synthesizes the Bible’s position on how we are to engage far better than reorganizing our church to draw resources away from discipleship to join causes to end hunger, poverty, injustice and oppression in our city but again, maybe I’m missing something. Still searching and trying to understand.

15 07 2008
bluelikeelvis

Our mission is to live like Jesus.

Jesus spent his time with the poor and marginalized.

Enough for me.

As for using the rest of scripture to broaden understanding….that is exactly what I did by referencing the OT passages. I used OT references to wealth redistributing, fighting for justice, and serving the poor to broaden the understanding of Jesus spending his time with people deemed as outcast.

Yet, your use of 1 Tim 5 to define the passage of James 1:27 needs to be done with care. NT letters were exactly that, letters to specific congregations and we should read them as such. 1 Timothy’s advice about widows was in regards to the specific situation of the people of that community. To make this point look at 1 Timothy 5 and 6 as a whole, it speaks of widows but it also speaks of elders and slaves. Widows, elders, and SLAVES were issues for this specific church. The advice given to those “under the yoke of slavery” to “consider their masters worthy of respect,” hopefully is not advice you give to your congregation.

As for the premise of your argument….does serving the poor and discipleship need to be in opposition? Doesn’t serving the poor help the poor to see the love of Christ (the starting point of discipleship)? Doesn’t serving the poor help one to live like Jesus (the essence of discipleship)?

I don’t see how ministry to the poor draws away resources. Developing relationships with poor is the essential element, which requires no money at all. If you provide food or clothing to the poor it is a miniscule amount compared to what most churches spend on programs merely meant to entertain or feed church members who could easily find meals elsewhere. Yet, if ministry to the poor does draw away resources, I see it as worthy of the money spent.

Jesus went out of his way to spend time with the poor.

(Please excuse the long reply)

15 07 2008
eden2zion

bluelikeelvis – I appreciate the long reply.

It’s important that you know this is NOT theoretical for me. Our community has far more opportunities to train disciples than we have resources and there are thousands of poor people within a few miles so what should we do? In reality one directly draws from the others. I could send guys out to start discipleship training centers or I can send the same team to live life with the urban poor. These two models have been presented to us and we have to make careful decisions.

Thus, we are in a very similar situation to 1 Tim. 5 and every church has this dilemma. We have to know what the mission is. We could use our resources (time, energy, money) to feed 100 poor people per week or intensively train 20 disciples during a week. What should we do and what determines the balance?

I agree that serving the poor, as a regular discipline, is a part of discipleship. So that is what we want to promote. Jesus spent FAR more time disciplining then ministering to the poor. Even his healings were often meant as discipling tools or used to confront religious leaders. And this type of serving I’m 100% behind.

What I’m questioning is those who take a community that could be training disciples, and defines The Mission as serving the unbelieving poor while training never takes place. This is extremely common and I want to understand why we’re neglected the Great Commission (to go and MAKE disciples).

15 07 2008
Jonathan Brink

Jeromy, I think part of the disconnect may have been in the question. Serving the poor is part of it, but not the whole, as you seemed to confirm above. This may be a fine line for some.

Some of that may be a heart issue. We look at the specific commands to love (going the extra mile, giving a coat) and practice them. And the specific act can in and of itself become a religious act, which leaves the heart behind.

This is why we (the people I work with) focus on following the Holy Spirit in restoration and reconciliation as central to understanding mission. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to the poor but not for the sake of earning favor with God or becoming religion but to engage the restoration of all things. It’s not a specific act.

15 07 2008
Jonathan Brink

Jeremy, for others, I would also suggest putting the original post back up so they know what the comments are.

16 07 2008
Gavin

JP – I think that you unlocked a key point, where I may have missed a critical nuance between mission and discipline. So, I completely agree with the language “not our mission” but “an important discipline for every disciple and every local expression of the Body of Christ.”

Jonathan – love all of your responses. And love the language of reconciliation and restoration which I have begun employing, as well. Both Keller and a Reformed Catholic community that has been influential to me, the Taize Community, emphasize the redeeming and restoring effect of the Body on the City in which they are located.

Very clarifying series of posts. And JP, very worthwhile, the clarification helps me make sense of the delineation that you are making.

Bluelikeelvis, your zeal for serving the underprivileged is admirable. I just hope that it doesn’t translate into a social Gospel that overlooks the fact that Jesus Himself is the revelation of God and is the only source of reconciliation. Restoring the lives of the underprivileged is only one aspect of the City of God intertwining itself with the City of Man.

16 07 2008
eden2zion

Jonathan – Your emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s leading when doing outreach is part of the discipline of walking in the Spirit so that God can direct you to exactly what He is ALREADY doing in that city.

The best example of this I know of is the story of Zacchaeus, while Jesus was walking through the city of Jericho. Of course, instead of going to a poor person in that case, the Holy Spirit led Christ directly to the guy oppressing the poor.

It’s when we have an experience in the Spirit like this one and we start Zacchaeus Ministries International and organize our church to search every tree in the city to find Zacchaeus’s that I get frustrated. We take the leading of the Holy Spirit and turn it into a ministry. But I do believe you can serve the poor and the oppressed as a spiritual discipline on a regular basis but certainly, that as well needs to be led by Spirit.

16 07 2008
eden2zion

Gavin – AWESOME! I knew we were missing each other but this categorization of serving as a discipline is new for me and very freeing. I wanted to get this out there to see if others agree or if there might be a flaw in that thinking as well. Removing this kind of ministry from being defined as our “mission” would seem to contradict what I see many of my friends doing as they build missional communities and define the mission as ministry to the poor, the neighborhood, the city, with no clear way of making disciples of the people in those places.

17 07 2008
Mick Porter

Hi,

Great question, although I didn’t get to read your original post. However, this has become a really big deal for us – we are currently producing a video-based series for small groups with a working title of “A Question of Mercy”. We are asking questions around why we need to show mercy (A: the Fall and the resulting curse) and what the ultimate solution is (A: Kingdom restoration at Jesus’ return).

Also questions like “What is justice?”. I.e. if someone grows up in an abusive, addicted “family”, ends up uneducated, on the street, on drugs, burgles my house, and then gets arrested – do we see “justice” as having been done when the law caught up with them? Or is justice when they get the same respect/opportunity etc. as I do?

In wading into this (both in theory and in lots of excursions into the margins of our city) it’s really affected how we proclaim the gospel to people. We’ve been able to work through a gospel proclamation that is both good news to sinners (atonement) and good news to the oppressed (a new King has arrived). Everyone out there is a sinner; not everyone is in the oppressed category.

It seems to me very difficult to go to people (aboriginal Australians) who my culture (white Australians) have treated despicably and tell them about Jesus who (if they put faith in Him) will restore to them love, respect, land, abundance etc., and not move in some significant ways to demonstrate that. How can my local church move to declare the kingdom while it stays generally white and middle-class?

Lots of emerging/liberal thinking is hugely helpful in this, but you just can’t listen to it uncritically. There was a cataclysmic event that caused the brokenness of the world, and it will take a cataclysmic event (the return of Jesus where he takes up the victory already claimed in his death/resurrection) to restore it. The liberal perspective often misses this, and sees us as being able to “fix up the world”.

Israel was judged for moral failings and for being socially unconcerned. Sodom was judged for the same two reasons. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, it’s hard to look past the fact that the rich man was simply unconcerned. The greatest story of mercy is that of Christ on the cross, but Jesus’ own parable (into which I believe he is casting himself) is of a Samaritan who loves his neighbour – who also happens to despise him.

So is serving the poor Christian mission? That’s a bit like asking “is worship Christian mission?”, or “is being a Christ-like husband Christian mission?”. I’d rather ask, “Is serving the poor an imperative that arises from the truths of the gospel?”, and “Is serving the poor a necessary accompaniment to proclaiming the fullness of the gospel?” – and I would answer yes to both questions.

17 07 2008
eden2zion

Mike – Great points all and helpful to me.

I agree with your summary paragraph as well, but the reason I’m asking the question about mission is because many (if not most) of the churches we network with define this as the mission. And while I agree that “serving the poor is necessary to demonstrate the fullness of the gospel”, I believe this is done in a regular and disciplined way (as well as through the leading of the Holy Spirit) but should not take the central place as the ultimate mission of the church (which I believe should be defined by the Great Commission).

It seems like some feel I’m being nitpicky about this but this distinction for someone like me who is responsible for architecting church structure and training is extremely significant. I’ve been trying to figure out where this fits in a community with unlimited disciple-making opportunities.

18 07 2008
Steve

Hi,

Interesting discussion. I’d just like to make a comment on an aspect of the “Great Commission” that I think is often overlooked. It often seems to be interpreted just along the lines of, “preach the gospel and then teach the converts”, but I think that view misses some crucial aspects of the commission.

So just for the moment examining the command to “make disciples”, this often get’s interpreted as, “preach the gospel, and then teach the new Christians to help them grow in personal sanctification and their knowledge of God.” While I would absolutely affirm that as part of what it means to “make disciples”, we can’t divorce this command from the whole context of Matthew’s gospel.

Throughout Matthew we see Jesus teaching that to be his disciple includes things like showing mercy, being peacemakers, hungering and thirsting for justice and righteousness, sharing with the needy (to mention a few). In chapters 9 and 10 we see how Jesus weaved together gospel proclamation and compassionate healing of the afflicted – and then sent his disciples out in a very similar way.

So when Jesus commissions his church to “make disciples”, I’m quite sure we’ve got to interpret that in light of what he has shown us that looks like (which is far more than imparting teaching and working through personal issues, which is how it is often seen). Jesus’ version of making disciples included taking them out in his ministry of teaching and healing – and then sending them out in a kind of continuance of his ministry.

And so I see discipling as including things like taking other Christians out with us to the broken places and people, mixing with the poor and margenalised – seeking to proclaim the gospel in a context of concrete love in action.

In my own time spent amongst the homeless and very broken aboriginal people in my city, I’ve found that it’s really been in the context of trying to show some real practical love in action that our proclamation of the gospel has really led to Christ being encountered.

In Christ,
Steve

20 07 2008
Keri

Wow my brother. I’m sorry I missed the original post — so I can’t really comment. But by first glance at the comments that are here I see this is a sensitive subject you are tackling. I’ll be in prayer about the insight you are pursing on this topic.

12 01 2009
suman

is this mission help the poor in india

18 04 2011
k.Arjun

Sir pls help me,m helpless,i want 2 b rich,i want 2 make my parents happy,i want 2 bring honor 2 tnem because of me they lost their happy,sir pls consider on my request pls listen 2 my cry,

20 08 2011
Frank Allen

This is a wonderful thread and the discussion is very needed in the church today. I really appreciate the civil tone and respect that I have seen here. At 48 years old and serving as a vocational missionary to the poor for 20 years, even though my appointment is indicative of my call, I have struggled with my call and suffered from trying to convince the church of our responsibility to the poor.

We all understand that serving the poor is both biblical and Godly. It’s priority in the Church, that is the question. Is it doctrine or just a nice option. Are we moved by conscience or by scripture?

Unfortunately, due to the massive amount of communication and transfer of information on the world wide web, the old style of “…come let us reason together…” (which, by the way, you folks are still doing very well here); is replaced with a rally of like minded folks to defeat the opposition and creates polar sides in the Body of Christ. Again, you folks are not doing that in this thread! In this google-age we do not have to reason together, we can find those that agree with us, support our view and build our strength. That is warm and fuzzy, but really scary – because it makes it easy to divide and further polarize the body of Christ.

May I offer my most humble and unlearned ‘two-cents-worth? It steeped in experience and practicum; and balanced with scripture and reality. We need to be very careful in these days in which we live. There are three wars in the church universal. (1) Worship wars. (2) Those that preach against sin and those that preach positive only. (3) Missional verses Discipleship preaching wars within the kingdom (please understand that I am not saying that you are warring, but there is a civil war in the Kingdom and it is on several fronts. It is really scary. Being a missionary, as I itinerate to raise awareness and funds I see it and it hurts me deeply. Now these three wars could be explained more deeply, but for brevity and the reality that you understand what I am talking about, I will keep it short.

Music is not really about worship it about preference. I sit in a doctor’s office for hours and listen to sic that I do not like, but I really like my doctor. The older folks do not prefer the younger and the younger does not prefer the older. They want what they want. The younger crowd says it is for the seeker, but it is for the seeker that likes what they like. The older folks say it is traditional, but their tradition. They have failed to prefer their brother!

Positive confession verses repentance. Along the same lines; a matter of style, anointing, understanding or giftedness

Justice and service to the poor, verses programs that entertains the saints, draws the sinner and builds the church. The guns are drawn and people are fighting. Honestly, a lot of money is being spent on promoting views rather than investing in their beliefs. I say that if the funds being spent to defend the missional mindset was given to the poor the world would be changed. Can you imagine what would happen if the amount of money being spent to promote and conduct mega gatherings with high profile entertainers, would be used to rotate and focus on local churches?

I am not saying that we should do away with any of these wonderful things. What I am saying is, Christianity is all of these things included; not just one or the other. I am not trying to over simplify this issue, but “God places members in the body as He sees fit…” different giftedness. You have people that can preach/teach holiness, healing, prosperity, the great commission, social justice, etc. God gives us all different gifts because for the body of Christ to be healthy and balanced we need everyone. i.e. As a missionary to the poor, I need prosperity preachers to lead people to prosper so that they can support our work. I lead a strong parachurch ministry to he poor, but I also pastor an urban church for the poor. We need a few people with knowledge and resources even in our congregation to support our work and to the the poor (at least those with the capacity to learn) how to prosper and improve their lives. Early in my ministry, when I was a boy preacher. I used to feel that if you were not ministering to the poor that you must not be saved. That was excitement and zeal. Now I know that if everyone focus on the poor and justice there will be no church. We each have our “sub”mission (play on words intended) within Christ’s mission for His church.

I hope that this post continues. I enjoy and appreciate the scholarly approach and applaud the civil tone in which you engage each other. I would like to commend you for the forthright and yet respectful manner that you approach a very sensitive issue. You conversation has confirmed my own call. Thanks and God Bless!

20 08 2011
Frank Allen

I am sorry, my email address is frankhcs@aol.com

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