Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Stand for Compassion, Part 3

I had the great privilege for three years of working with Seven Springs Baptist Church (, and one thing that is central to the ministry of Seven Springs Church is working with people who many may see as hard luck cases, for lack of a better word. I saw something extraordinary, too. I saw a businessman who was not connected with our church come forward and say, "I'd like to put the government out of the social ministry business." And he put his money where his mouth was. He came to several churches and offered to help them help the needy. He would supply the financial resources and the churches would administer them. Here was a man whom God had blessed with wealth and a heart of compassion. It was a delight to work with him.

What is needed is more men and women like him and his team. We would not need a "welfare state" in the U. S. if the churches would do what they're supposed to do and care for the sick, the poor, the orphans and widows. Most of the time we don't even provide for our own widows in our own congregations. Never mind helping those on the outside. And why is it that we're that way? I think part of it is that when theological liberals like Walter Rauschenbusch promoted social action as the gospel many conservatives ran from social activism for fear of being associated with the Social Gospel. In effect they threw out the baby with the bath. In a few places today Evangelical churches are waking up to the real need to minister to the needy.

We need to be more effective in working with drug addicts, helping people recover from failed marriages, sexual addictions, and training people to enter the workforce. Churches should be a place where people who need a basic education can come for free and learn how to read and write and do basic math. Why aren't our church buildings, which often sit empty for hours and hours each week, used to provide basic life skills classes, GED courses, and parenting classes? Remember, compassion is something you show by doing something about the situation people are living in. Let's rise up and take a stand for compassion by doing more with our time and our facilities to help people who are genuinely in need, and at the same time let's show them Christ, the One who gave everything that they might live.


  1. Also, our church buildings could be used for affordable Christ-centered education. Unfortunately, the basic life skills and parenting classes are covered in Titus 2 and we are supposed to be mentoring people.

    This is just a question, not one I have already come to a conclusion on. But, does the new testament give guidelines for who we are supposed to support financially, besides the widows who have raised Godly children? Are we supposed to use these avenues to bring people to Jesus OR are we supposed to focus our resources on people who are new converts? Is there a detrimental effect on the body to have constant intermingling of people who are not saved in our churches for worship and discipleship. In short, are we neglecting the actual body in order to try to grow the body. IF this is the case, we are just growing a larger, diseased body, instead of glorifying God with a bride worthy of Him.

    Disclaimer: I am not anti-compassion, believe it or not, BUT I do wonder if we go about it the wrong way. I wonder if we used strict biblical guidelines would the results being miraculous?

  2. Good response, and good questions. I believe that as a matter of financial stewardship the church has a responsibility to care for its own first. I see this as a pattern in the Book of Acts and in the writings of Paul.

    However, we are also to seek to show God's love and do good to all people to the extent that God gives us the means for doing so. We do have to be responsible about how we do it. If all we ever do is throw money at a problem the problem won't go away. In fact, it will continue to come back for more. That's human nature. We need to look for ways to move people beyond their neediness and bring them to a level of personal responsibility and self-reliance. That's where having life skill classes comes in, and yes, you are right to point out that biblically we should be doing that.

    On the issue of the unsaved in our services and classes, I don't think that's a problem unless we allow them to become members without being saved. And therein lies the problem with many of our churches today. A shallow and shoddy evangelism that focuses on quick decisions has, I believe, filled our churches with unconverted members who have a show of religion but have never experienced the power of transforming grace. Furthermore, they've been effectively vaccinated to the gospel by virtue of being accepted into churches that don't practice biblical discipline. Those are my thoughts on the questions you raise. Thanks for the comments.

  3. in my OPINION, if the unsaved feel comfortable in our services week after week, month after month, then there is something wrong. What fellowship does light have with darkness?