In the previous blog posts for this week, we discussed the rationale for mercy ministry as well as the basic steps for getting started. As stated previously, mercy ministry is not a package program to implement in your conversation, but rather it is a culture, a way of life among your members. If carried out biblically, mercy ministry will lead your people to be in relationships. Therefore, this post focuses on the people who experience hopeless situations apart from Christ. According to step three in the previous blog post, you should survey your community, identifying segments of hurting people in your neighborhood. While the categories are not exhaustive and overlap somewhat, they should help guide your discovery process. Download this free guide for more. 1. In every community, there are men, women, and children needing biblical counseling, encouragement, and mentoring. Quite likely, you will discover people in your community suffering from deep depression. Possibly, this depression results from closely-related physical problems or perhaps it stems from overwhelming circumstances. Maybe a couple is on the verge of ending their marriage. Others may be suffering grief or struggling with addictions. In these cases, the church can offer tremendous healing in various ways depending on certain gifting, levels of training, and personal preferences concerning the pastors’ chosen approach to counseling. For more information on the various approaches to counseling in the local church, see my blog post here. 2. Another primary people segment meeting the mercy of God’s people are men and women struggling to find gainful employment. The church can offer a significant amount of mercy by helping individuals complete a GED, received various forms of vocational training, provide babysitting for single parents, and other expressions of mercy within the challenges of difficult situations involving a lack of employment. Organizations such as Jobs for Life offer an excellent opportunity to minister in this way while discipling men and women. 3. A third category of hurting people in many communities is the homeless population. Typically, many of us think of homelessness as a man or woman wandering the streets of an urban setting. Homelessness is much more complex than this simplistic understanding of the issue. Consider the materials listed here as you grow in your understanding of our society’s homeless population. 4. Hungry people are all around us. For instance, studies show that nearly 40% of people living in a single-parent household struggle with daily hunger. Government handouts are not solving the problem of hunger in our society. Consider working with Global Hunger Relief to support quality efforts among the poor globally thorugh funds given to BGR. Unlike most well-known organizations, 100% of SBC Global Hunger Relief gifts go to serve those in need. Also, your church can be a leading advocate for feeding people in your immediate context. 5. The world is coming to us. Every city and most small towns have a growing population of internationals and possibly refugees. What is your church doing to minister to men, women, and children who are going through this major life change and adjusting to a new culture? People moving to a new country long for meaningful relationships. What an opportunity to show mercy to people as you help them adjust to new life in the States or Canada. 6. Another common people segment that experience suffering and need the mercy of God’s people are neglected and at-risk children. In several counties across the US, churches have realized the opportunity to care for abandoned children. Literally, in these counties, not one single child remains in the foster care system for very long. Families have reached out to these through adoption, showing them the love of Christ. In other settings, churches have decided to help by tutoring and mentoring children, teaching them to read and encouraging good life choices, thereby setting them on a path to receiving an education and graduate from high school rather than being destined to sure economic poverty. 7. Prisoners and the families of the incarcerated are the final primary people group I will mention. Starting a ministry to help individuals transition out of prison system is not the same as having a prison ministry, in which your members go into the prison and share the gospel. Are ex-felons welcome in your congregation? How do you care for people who need a new set of relationships as part of rebuilding their lives? Churches are waking up to the fact that the church has not shown the same level of compassion to former prisoners and their families as it has other population segments. Look upon the harvest. Hurting people are around you everywhere. Identify the people segments in your community who are in need of God’s love and seek out ways to bring peace into their lives to replace their significant suffering. The workers are few but the harvest is plentiful. There is hope in Jesus Christ for these people, who may not see anything other than hopelessness. Will your church engage in mercy ministry these people segments? For more in-depth discussion of these and other mercy ministry issues, download Demonstrating & Declaring God’s Love: A Simple Guide to Mercy Ministry.
Published April 9, 2015