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Editor’s note: The North American Mission Board’s evangelism ministries are focused on six primary areas: Evangelism Networks/Resources, Chaplaincy, LoveLoud ministry evangelism, Disaster Relief, Church Revitalization and Collegiate evangelism. This article, the second in a series of six, spotlights LoveLoud ministry evangelism.
By Joe Conway
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their
distress and to keep oneself
unstained by the world (James 1:26-27, HCSB).
James writes that one measure of true
religion is evidenced by how Christ followers treat the neglected. LoveLoud is a movement of churches demonstrating God’s love by
meeting significant human need while sharing Christ.
The search for the neglected is not
a difficult one. Look no further than your local public school. That’s what they
did in Jackson, Ga.
The congregation of Jackson’s Macedonia Baptist Church
decided to do something to help the hundreds of students in
their community who may not get regular meals during the summer. For
10 weeks last summer their church joined two other congregations in providing
lunches for more than 200 local children whose families said they’d like
to have the help.
“I hope [our community] sees the love of Christ coming
through us,” said Lane Sanders, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church. “We don’t
look at ourselves as separated unto ourselves, but we have a mission and an
investment in the community.”
According to Jerry Daniel, the North American Mission Board’s
LoveLoud team leader, Macedonia Baptist is one of a growing movement of
Southern Baptist churches that are demonstrating God’s love by meeting
significant human need while sharing Christ.
“There’s a movement happening among Southern Baptists,”
Daniel said. “God has created a groundswell of churches that are loving their
communities like Jesus would. We want to highlight this and encourage other
churches to get involved.”
Sanders says his church
members delivered lunches in neighborhoods they had never visited and met
people struggling with great need. Several of the children they’ve
fed last summer attended the church’s Vacation Bible School. At least one of
them committed her life to Christ.
a similar need among students in Philadelphia, Chuck Kieffer thought of a novel
solution. Kieffer, a church planter and pastor of Philadelphia’s The Foundry
Church, led his congregation to reach their urban neighbors by growing fresh
produce. Their urban garden naturally provided teachable moments, along with a
500-pound annual yield of fresh produce. Garden Camp, an urban gardening-based
Vacation Bible School, was the next step.
teach gardening techniques and nutrition, which are easy to bridge to biblical
concepts of our Creator,” says Kieffer of the weeklong VBS. “Doesn’t every
church have some piece of ground they are not using? Every church can do this.
live in an area in Philadelphia that is a true paradox. We are just a few
blocks from some of the wealthiest residents of the city, but within our
immediate area 1 out of 3 children go to bed hungry each night. We have to do
something to help feed them and reach them for Christ,” says Kieffer.
As part of its efforts to help foster
a LoveLoud movement through churches, NAMB is trying to shine a spotlight on activities
like those championed by Macedonia and The Foundry in hopes that
such examples can serve as a model for other churches.
“We are collecting data and
identifying churches and ministries involved in mercy ministries,” said Ryan
West, NAMB’s national director for LoveLoud. “We are furthering the
conversation of what churches are already doing. We are attempting to help
foster and build networks.”
West says one goal is to help those
involved in mercy ministries feel more connected to others doing similar
“There are some common issues among
caregivers. Many struggle with the feeling of isolation. They think they are
attempting to assist the neglected in their community by themselves. One thing
we can do is help them find partners and others who are helping the neglected
in their communities in other ways. This helps alleviate that sense of becoming
overwhelmed by pressing needs,” said West.
An aspect of the LoveLoud movement
that makes it attractive to cities is how those deeply involved in mercy
ministry are instruments of peace in their cities–personal peace through the
presence of Christ and peace within the community.
“Many cities have a dry environment
without connection to a vibrant faith community. LoveLoud brings a refreshing
peace. The gospel brings the fountain of life to the desert,” said West.
It is precisely this result that so
often opens the doors to gospel conversations and faith encounters, says West.
Mercy ministries with ties to local churches are important when people come to
faith in Christ. Established relationships help new Christians feel welcome
when they come to worship and join churches.
Explore how your church can expand
its mercy ministry to neglected neighbors, communities and children near you
through LoveLoud at http://www.namb.net/loveloud.
Joe Conway writes for the North
American Mission Board. Tobin Perry contributed to this article.
Evangelism Spotlight 2014
Date Created: 3/14/2014 1:20:43 AM
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering®© Copyright 2014 North American Mission Board, SBC