Contact Us in the UK
- Phone: 01302 811319
- Mailing Address: 24 Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, Doncaster, South Yorkshire DN1 2BA
Contact Us in the US
- Phone: 202.468.4571
- Mailing Address: PO Box 5188 Wheaton, IL 60189-5188
There's some sturm und drang these days about the role of mercy ministry in the life of the church. And I can totally understand why.
Evangelicals keep flirting with the temptation to put gospel proclamation and social action on equal footing, as if we can do one and not the other. I think that's wrong. The gospel is the horse that pulls the cart of social action and mercy ministry. The gospel is the steam engine that empowers and inspires our action. Where mercy is missing from a church, the gospel hasn't been understood. But mercy ministry without the gospel is insufficient.
Here is one way that this plays out in our local congregation:
We have recently started a food pantry in our church's basement. It's nothing earth shattering: right now we can only manage one giveaway a month, though we're hoping to increase the frequency as time goes by. Something like twenty-two families were served during our first giveaway.
But we don't view the food pantry as merely an exercise in social action. For us, it is a gospel opportunity. We want to leverage everything that we have (money, people, shelving, basements) in order to show people the love of Christ AND tell them about the love of Christ. So we have English and Spanish speakers on hand to build relationships with the people who come. We follow up with the people, visiting their homes and offering to study the Bible with them.
We don't view the food as a bribe to make people listen to the gospel. We see it as an expression of God-given mercy for our neighbors in need. But it would be unloving and unmerciful if we only gave them food that would perish while withholding the bread of life (John 6:27).
You can check out our food pantry blog here.