Wednesday, 31 October 2012

All Saints Word: Need Oriented Outreach

Need-orientated outreach.
7#8 of 8 Qualities of Healthy Growing Church

What is this Quality? Outreach which has a priority of discovering the practical needs in the communities served by our church, and meeting those needs as an integral part of our overall outreach.

How is it shown in Jesus?
Matt 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Jesus says that the defining judgement between sheep and goats will be based on how we responded to people in need.
Jesus meets people's needs – he doesn't use them as a tactic to get his teaching across. A friend of mine was on the Walk of 1000 Men – a mission initiative the got 1000 men to walk the Pennine Way and evangelise people they met along the way, in the pub, wherever. He went into a rather rowdy bar with some tough characters and, being rather shy, he sat in the corner with a lonely looking bloke and tried to get a conversation going. News of their presence had obviously got around for he was hailed scornfully by one of the drinkers “Oh, there you go – they always go after the weak ones! Why didn't you come and talk to us?” Good question! Jesus stepped up to heal the man with the withered arm in the synagogue on a Sabbath and got into trouble – because the man needed it. Jesus accepted the lepers' challenge to heal them – and risked being made unclean – because they needed it. Jesus gave his life up for us on the cross – because we needed it. He ate with sinners. He drank with publicans. He visited tax collectors – because they needed it. Jesus even got into rows and arguments with the righteous people – because they needed it. The hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the ill and the criminal are all recommended to us by Jesus. His outreach was to those in need. Mark 2:17
“...Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a
doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’ “

How is it shown in the NT Church?

Acts 2:47 “.... And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” we read – and one of the signs of health in this growing church was that of Acts 2:45 “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need”. Of course the NT church had an expectation of the imminent return of Jesus. They sat very lightly to earthly things. I wonder how hampered we are by our material and financial well-being as we try to live out a Christlike life? The rich young man was sad when he was challenged on this. Matt 19:24.

The history of the church is very mixed. There have been times of great spiritual weakness and corruption – but also times of great service to humanity. Education, medicine, freedom, care of orphans and outcasts have often been hallmarks of the work of committed Christians. Many of out most worthy charitable organisations are, or began, as Christian responses to those in need. And when the established churches seemed to turn their backs on new challenges there were Christians who stepped into the breach for slaves, lepers, immigrants, children, prisoners, the poor and the needy.

How is it shown in our Church and in me? Are we still fired up by the need around us? Am I? Over the last 10 years we have shown this heart in our adoption of World Vision projects, raising tens of thousands of pounds for the needy overseas. We have embraced the food bank and take a good quantity each week to the needs in our city. We have opened “Friendship” and a “Bereavement” groups as well as Toddler groups. These are local needs which we have identified. But what about those needs that are hidden from us? What are the needs in your street? Are we sure that we know the real needs of those whom we are called to live and work and share the gospel with? Are we too often under financial pressure, time pressure, pressure pressure – which preoccupies us and numbs us to what is there all around us?

Jesus says: Matt 25:40 “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” How owuld your world change if you really saw Jesus in the needs around you?

Three rusty nails - Roger McGough

Mother, there's a strange man
Waiting at the door
With a familiar sort of face
You feel you've seen before.

Says his name is Jesus
Can we spare a couple of bob
Says he's been made redundant
And now can't find a job.

Yes I think he is a foreigner
Egyptian or a Jew
Oh aye, and that reminds me
He'd like some water too.

Well shall I give him what he wants
Or send him on his way?
O.K. I'll give him 5p
Say that's all we've got today.

And I'll forget about the water
I suppose it's a bit unfair
But honest, he's filthy dirty
All beard and straggly hair.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Mother, he asked about the water
I said the tank had burst
Anyway I gave him the coppers
That seemed to quench his thirst.

He said it was little things like that
That kept him on the rails
Then he gave me his autographed picture
And these three rusty nails.

Roger McGough (born 1937) England

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