Several years ago I was involved in a ministry at a local church that gathered food and distributed it to various ministries in our city. These ministries sought to serve the low-income families of the community. I remember the first Sunday that congregants were to bring food for the outreach… it was amazing! We had over 2,000 items donated, everything from canned food to paper towels and baby items. The ministry launch was a success! We decided to make this outreach a monthly opportunity for the church. For three months the results were great, lots of food was collected; many generous hearts had been moved.
However, after about 6 to 9 months the numbers started to decrease. The amount of food sitting in the church hallway after the monthly outreach Sunday dwindled. Soon only a few grocery bags and a small pile of cans were given. What had happened? I don’t think it was that the generosity of the people departed, or that they didn’t care, so what was the problem? Why did the ministry become a forgotten afterthought?
The Challenges Churches Face
I think many churches can relate to this situation. You start an outreach to help the poor and it begins with a boom; excited faces and generous hearts. However, within a matter of months the momentum is gone and the ministry fizzles out. Or you work hard month after month or year after year reaching out serving the poor and you fail to see results. Questions and doubt creep in and ultimately the ministry dissolves in frustration or bitterness. Why have the poor not changed? Why don’t they appreciate our generous gifts and help? When will they stop making the poor choices that hold them in poverty? Could it be that we have approached serving the poor in the wrong way? Have our efforts resulted in a deeper poverty in ourselves and in those we attempt to serve? Could we be reinforcing the very lies that perpetuated the poverty of the poor to begin with – making their situation potentially worse? Maybe you feel like you are doing lots, but aren’t seeing any real change. Or you have given lots but that’s it…given…and you realize your efforts have been void of relationships and you want to change that. There are certainly no easy answers to these struggles. But God’s word is alive, and His heart for the poor and vulnerable is as active as ever, and we’re called to be part of the solution. So where do we begin? Churches in North America are filled with generous, caring and genuinely compassionate people. How do we steer these folks into fruitful, sustaining and long-term relationships that change the poor, transform communities and bring glory to God’s name?
TCT – Local
The Truth Centered Transformation – Local project aims to walk alongside churches, equipping them with skills to reach out and love the vulnerable. Through the training, churches will search God’s word for truth, learn the promises of God’s power, and discover a multitude of skills that equip them to better love the poor and broken. Churches are challenged to start with small mustard seed actions that demonstrate God’s love. The training begins by looking at powerful principles of scripture to understand God’s truth as it applies to others and ourselves. There is no special formula or comprehensive guide to follow but there are deeper understandings and skills to be learned that can prepare our hearts for effectively loving the vulnerable. TCT – Local equips your church and members to better do that.
Throughout the month of September we will be sharing some of our stories and experiences both locally and globally. We will also be digging into a few of the questions that sometimes make loving the poor a difficult and messy process. We welcome your questions, thoughts and comments. We also encourage you to peek at our new TCT – Local web pages to discover more about this program and the way it could encourage and equip your church. The poor desire to be loved, and the Church desires to love. We hope that your life and church will connect the two points together through God-dependent, love-driven, truth-inspired relationships that value, encourage and restore dignity to the vulnerable. Thank you for following our journey this month! We hope and pray that you are encouraged, inspired and challenged! Let us know how TCT – Local could be a tool or resource to encourage and equip your church. We would love to talk to you about that! Email any and all questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org