BE EAGER TO REMEMBER THE POOR
REFLECTIONS ON TYPICAL PCA CHURCH AND PASTOR DECISIONS CONCERNING A CONGREGATIONAL MINISTRY OF MERCY. (I am making a distinction here between typical congregations as opposed to those within the New City Network.)
1. Most church planters and pastors see mercy ministry as optional, and not a necessity as a church ministry.
2. Many church planters see mercy as a distraction in the first couple of years of planting a congregation.
3. Many pastors and congregations see mercy ministry as something done by church members through non-profit or volunteer agencies.
4. Some pastors and congregations see mercy ministry as something accomplished only on mission trips in distant places.
5. Some pastors have no idea on how to train Deacons in how to do mercy, so usually opt for biblical or theological training in the office of Deacon and character qualifications.
6. Some churches refuse to show or give “charity” to people who ask for help because… • There is a political spirit in the church that charity is only asked by people too lazy to help themselves. • The inconvenience and disruptive nature of emergency requests is distracting from scheduled and organized ministry. • There is a philosophical idea that responding to emergencies actually hurts poor people who are better served by a curriculum approach of training in budgeting and financial literacy. • They have not studied, prepared, or trained in how to receive requests for help and how to process the requests based on policies that will help solve the requestor’s problem. • They have not designated personnel or schedule in how and when to receive requests. • They have given no thought to the evangelistic and spiritual opportunity of hearing a request from the poor. • They do not see the poor who come with emergencies as potential disciples or future members of the church.
7. Some pastors only see as legitimate requests for help those that arise from church members. They do not have a vision for mercy or care of the surrounding community.
8. Some pastors have not learned from other congregational models which give Deacons the tools to offer people seeking assistance a choice, of either getting help just once, or once a year, versus enlisting in a curriculum approach and classes which build relationships with the church, and become disciples.
9. Some Pastors and Sessions are not willing to raise up new leaders to teach the poor, counsel them, and share resources so that they might be helped, and come into the body of Christ.
10. Some Pastors give no biblical preaching or teaching on justice, mercy, and compassion either through biblical ignorance, political inclination, or economic and cultural isolation.
I wish this reality would change. I wish that pastors and congregations would reflect on how Jesus teaches us to love the poor, what James and John say about it, what the book of Proverbs says about the poor, and how Israel was judged because they failed to love the poor as they should. I wish that all of those who shy away from such biblical teaching because they fear being called a Social Justice Warrior would remember that biblical justice is God’s will for us, that all true justice is social, and that this is what God requires of us, Micah 6: