‘I don’t know how to reach out and help! Or even if I should?!’
In a season of quarantine and social distancing, how can local churches continue their mission to reach out beyond what are now virtual walls?
As a gospel coach to many pastors and church planters in the US and UK, I’ve heard two good ideas worth trying.
1. Neighborliness Note
Andy W. and his wife, who planted in a very secular city, took the initiative to put a note with their names and phone numbers on the door of every house on their short street. The note simply suggested forming a social media group to stay in touch. Here’s what they found helpful.
- Suggest an app like WhatsApp or GroupMe.
- At the beginning, act like a host of a virtual party, asking questions of those that join the group.
- Ask if anyone is sick or needs help with anything.
- Let members of the group meet the needs that are shared.
- Pray for the people in the group privately.
- Ask your church to pray about starting a group on their street.
Interestingly, this idea wasn’t the brainstorm of a cutting edge church planter. Andy brilliantly did his R&D and ripped off and duplicated the idea from his mother who lives in a small town.
What are the baby steps of missional living? Loving your actual neighbor, right? This is a great time and season to start with a simple note.
2. Cooperate with Local Food Pantries
Sam K, a planter who meets in a local middle school was burdened for the many students who would go without free or reduced-price lunches. With job losses and children out of school the crisis got real quickly for many near his church. So they mobilized to work with a large community-based non-profit that already had infrastructure in place. The life blood of every non-profit are willing volunteers and donations. Here’s what to do:
- Search for the nearest food pantry.
- Contact them and find out what how you can help.
- Spread the word in your church, neighborhood and social circles.
- If you are healthy, go and serve, while observing appropriate social distancing.
Be part of the solution for families and children in crisis. Your church can be truly helpful in this time of crisis.
What are the baby steps of missional living? Loving your neighbors, right? It’s a great time and season to start with donating time and food to those in distress.
How is your church being missional? Let me know. I’d love to hear more good news.
“Why would you want to open a home for senior citizens?” asked the government official.
Years ago the Cuban government closed all church-run orphanages and senior assisted living homes. Recently the churches we work with have been granted permission to start the first assisted living home in one major city in more than 50 years. It’s called “La Casa de Esperanza” – The House of Hope and serves 7 full-time residents and adult day-care for more. Uncommon.
We attended the grand opening on the veranda. There is Miguel, one of my co-trainers, leading the program.
Surprisingly, three government officials also attended, took the tour, heard the testimonies, the hymns we sang and listened to the speakers talk about Christianity. It was almost a church service!
They later spent 30 minutes quizzing a key church leader about why Christians would want to do such a thing. The churches barely have enough, why take on others’ burdens? The answer: Christians are taught to love others and care for their neighbors. Even if it costs them.
In a country where the average salary is $20-25 per month, caring for the weak and aged is especially hard. But the gospel is being proclaimed in word and deed in Cuba and the church there is growing in surprising ways.
Participating in the Day of Prayer for Immigrant Families today.
A few years ago our church had grapple with the immigration issue. People without legal status were receiving Christ and wanted to join our church. I could find no biblical reason for them not to join. And some dads of families in our church were being deported.
Up till that point, I’d tried to stay blind to the plight of people around me. Not take a ‘political stance’ on immigration. But the study of Scripture brought our elders to a point where we couldn’t not say anything anymore. So I wrote this resolution that reviews what Scripture teaches and what we recognized God was calling us to do:
May 25, 2011
A Resolution from Concerned Pastors and Elders of Crosspoint Encuentro Church Regarding Welcoming Immigrants into our Church
God is the Sovereign King over all the earth and all governmental authority is subject to His authority and rule,
- God, after the Fall, subjected Adam and Eve to an immigrant status upon removal from Eden, (Genesis 3:23),
- God sent Abram to be an immigrant with his family (Gen. 12:2) sojourning in a strange land, then made His covenant with Abraham while he was an alien (Genesis 17:9),
- the children of Israel, through God’s divine providence, were immigrants in Egypt for generations (Gen. 50:22-26), were led out of Egypt by Moses, an immigrant (Ex. 2:22) and celebrated the first Passover in Egypt with converted strangers and sojourners (Ex. 12:43ff) who were led out of Egypt with Israel.
- God audibly and repeatedly commanded His people to give aliens/sojourners with them Sabbath rest (Ex. 20:10; 23:9, 12), identified them as former aliens and commanded His people to not mistreat or oppress sojourners/aliens among them (Ex. 23:9),
- God commanded His people to maintain the same regulations for non-native born people as native-born (Num. 9:14 and Num. 15) and required equanimity in temple worship (Lev. 17 and 19),
- God charged the courts of His people to judge righteously between fellow countrymen and aliens living among them (Deut. 1:16) and promises to defend aliens along with the fatherless and widow because He loves the alien and provides for them through the generosity of His people both directly and through the tithes of His people (Deut. 10:18ff, 24:14-21, 26:12-13),
- God curses the man who withholds justice from the sojourner, as well as the fatherless and widow (Deut. 27:19),
- Christ Jesus immigrated to earth from heaven,
- in His humanity Christ was an immigrant, persecuted by his fellow countrymen,
- we were all alienated from God and strangers to the covenants of promise without hope except through God’s grace by faith alone (Eph. 2:12)
- through Christ’s sacrifice in our place, He became our peace, made all believers one, broke down the dividing wall of hostility, created in Himself one new man, and by His reconciling work on the cross will make all things new in heaven and on earth by His blood (Eph 2: 14ff, Col. 1:20-22)
- his people are and will be from every nation, tribe, tongue and people united in Him, heirs and sons – neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female (Gal. 3:26-29),
- all of God’s people are citizens of heaven first and citizens of a nation on earth second (Phil. 3:20)
- there is no human governmental authority outside of God’s sovereign will and all government is established by God (Rom. 13:1-7) but does not supersede the government of God,
- legal status is not a requirement for salvation or church membership,
- ministers and elders of God’s church have a moral duty to speak against injustice.
- We resolve to pray for immigrants and their families out of concern for their souls and well-being. We will pray as well for our US governing authorities – local, state & federal – who are responsible to God for their personal, legislative, executive (including enforcement) and judicial decisions in regard to justice and mercy for all people. We will urge people to pray for the US electorate to consider immigration issues according to God’s Word so that His Word is exalted and obeyed as US immigration policy is debated and decided. And equally important, we will pray for other nations’ governing authorities who will also one day answer to God.
- We resolve to welcome all immigrants into our church for relief, assistance, development and the hearing of the gospel.
- We resolve to accept anyone who meets the requirements of faith in Christ alone by faith alone, they shall be welcomed into full membership in our church, regardless of legal status before the US government or any state in the Union.
- We resolve to disciple and train immigrants to ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever’ and treat them with dignity as image bearers of God.
- We resolve to prepare all church members and attenders, whether immigrants with status or without, or citizens of the US, to live as missionaries wherever God may, in His divine providence, send them to live, work and worship Him.
- We resolve to protect and teach all children, regardless of status or citizenship, to love God, receive Christ by faith and follow the doctrines of our holy religion.
- We resolve to work for the protection of the weak, oppressed and alien during legal proceedings and to urge our political representatives to develop a just and equitable means for immigrants whose status has expired to be reconciled and/or acquire legal status according to the laws of the USA.
- We resolve to educate English-speakers in our church about the issues, challenges, problems and struggles for immigrants and to educate Spanish-speaking congregants about their rights and duties as a sojourner in the USA.
- We resolve to prepare any immigrants under our care who are not currently under proper status to comply with the laws of the US and if they are unable to rectify their status, prepare them for the potential return to their home nation and accept these consequences peaceably and with grace.
Under the Grace of God and to His Glory Among All Nations,
Jim Moon, Jr. – Founding Pastor, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA
Héctor Guzmán – Co-Pastor, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA
Jim Payne – Co-Pastor, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA
Gordon Hwang – Elder, Crosspoint Encuentro Church Smyrna GA