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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Minding the Poor: Conclusion

Focus on relationships

One of things I learned while working with the homeless in New Orleans was that the poor are human beings. They have hopes, dreams, desires, and stories just like everyone else. So much ministry to the homeless is what I call “drop-and-run,” where people come and drop off food like they were feeding farm animals. The homeless get plenty of food and plenty of clothes (with some exceptions and God will show you when someone needs food and clothes), what they don’t get is the company of “regular” people. They don’t get to be treated like they are worth something and that someone actually gives a crap about them. If you want to position yourself to minister to the poor, you have to break it down to individuals and learn their names.

Offer fellowship opportunities that don’t cost money

The poor do not have money; that is why they have been designated “poor.” This means that we may have to have fellowship opportunities that do not involve a heavy cost. The cost should be borne by the people who have money. There are plenty of things you can do for free: invite the poor to your home, meet in a public park, have a hangout time where people fast instead of having to pay for food, have retreats on the church grounds or someplace accessible. We can adjust ourselves to minister to poor if we are willing to cut the budget back or even out completely.

Pray a lot

When dealing with taking care of the poor, nothing is more necessary than prayer. God alone can transform lives. I believe that transformation occurs when the needs of people are met by the supernatural offering of people who have gained a Christ-centered perspective. People are transformed by the Christ in other people and that involves us being in tune with who Christ is and what he is up to in our ministry. If we are not willing to pray and seek his face, we need not bother trying to minister to the poor. The only way through the disappointment and uncertainty is being on our face before God.

Start a movement

We need folks who are willing to step up in the local church and begin to help prepare our suburban churches for the influx of the poor. It will not happen overnight and it will take some trial and error before we really begin to be in sync with what God is doing. The best way to get the snowball into an avalanche is to dare to step up and be counted. If you believe God is calling you to raise awareness for the suburban poor in your local church then by all means, let your voice be heard in the power of Jesus Christ.

I hope this has been helpful and informative.

Grace and Peace

Hopefully having read this entire series, do you agree or disagree? Is there anything you would like to add?



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