We shall now consider the final three Indicators of Good Practice for ministries among the Poor which come under the category of Church and Leadership.
6. Kingdom extension to be intentional
Ministry with the poor provides a fertile context for God’s rule and government to be made manifest. People who already recognise their weakness and need of help are often more receptive to the gospel than those who are surrounded with apparent material security.
Ministry embracing the Poor can make a significant contribution to extending the Kingdom of God not only by demonstrating Kingdom rule as we plant churches in disadvantaged communities but also by challenging injustice, changing culture through education, demonstrating God’s provision by careful stewarding of His resources (e.g. through Farming) and so on. It is helpful to consider how and in what ways a particular ministry does extend the Kingdom.
7. Individuals changed from poverty to active mission.
This is closely allied with Indicator 5 discussed in the last posting, Gospel Impact. One goal of the ministry should be to move people from poverty (spiritual and material) to fruitfulness in the mission of the church. The gospel has to be good news for all and one of the benefits that can be expected is to lift people from requiring on-going support to becoming contributors to their local community and participators in the mission of the church.
I have two Basotho friends who exemplify this. John was actively belligerent in attacking white farmers when he became a Christian. He is now church planting in Lesotho.
Justice had been brought up in great poverty and ill-treated while his father worked on a farm in South Africa. When the farm changed hands many years later, and a church was planted there, he approached Steve Oliver, the new owner, and said he wanted to be saved! He is now an elder in the local multi-racial church with church planting plans in the future.
8. Biblical principles to be clearly defined
The church should be exemplary in all its dealings. The Bible has much to say about righteousness, mercy and love. Such expressions of godliness should cause the world to take note and recognise the contrast with their own Stewardship of creation and ‘talents’ (Gen 2:15 Adam caring for creation, Matt 25:14-27 the parable of the talents), compassion towards the down-trodden (Mk 6:34 ‘… he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd’), faith (Lk 17:6 ‘If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you’.) etc.
The church should always be a provocation to the world through demonstrating alternative community life and values!
Is your ministry demonstrating the Kingdom and intentionally extending it?
Are you seeing people being raised from poverty to active mission?