Where are the Suffering People of your Community in your Congregational Outreach Efforts?

poorIn what ways are you and your congregation providing for the needs of the poor, the orphaned, the handicapped, the addicted and the suffering in your community?  Our outreach efforts are often focused on people who are financially self-sufficient, who come from stable homes, and who are emotionally and physically healthy.  Our unspoken desire, but evidenced by our actions, is that we want people to join our churches who will demand little from us and in turn provide for our congregational needs (e.g. money for the budget, fill positions on council, etc.).

Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and author of Christ Have Mercy writes, “There are myriad needs in today’s Church, as has been the case throughout history. These needs include funding schools, seminaries, church buildings, salaries, programs, missions, and much more.  Every one of these needs is vital!  But where in this mix – locally, at the district level, nationally, and internationally – is concern for the poor and, more important, for poor Christians who are of the fellowship? Where in our educational system are clergy exposed to the needs of the poor, the orphan, the handicapped, the addicted, and the suffering? … Do church leaders contemplate the administrative structures necessary for an ordered congregational life of diakonia? Is there an intentional life of mercy in the local parish? Above all, the great stewardship promises of the New Testament have to do with generosity to the poor (“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity” to the poor, 2 Corinthians 9:10-11). As we care for the needy, doesn’t our Lord’s apply that “all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33)?”

From: Christ Have Mercy: How to Put Your Faith in Action by Matthew Harrison. Concordia Publishing House, 2008, p. 147.

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