On the Day of Pentecost, the first Christians preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Soon after, they also organized ministries to help the poor. This combination of evangelism and compassion is a biblical hallmark of Spirit-filled ministry. It’s also a template for action today.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine, interviews Dave Donaldson and Wendell Vinson about how the local church can serve the city through compassionate ministry.
Dave Donaldson and Wendell Vinson are editors of CityServe: Your Guide to Church-Based Compassion, just published by Salubris Resources. Donaldson is co-founder and chairman for CityServe International, whose visionis “to see the local church fulfill its calling to be a stronger catalyst for healthier communities and the restoration of broken lives.” Vinson is also co-founder of CityServe and pastor of Canyon Hills Church in Bakersfield, California.
“Between 2001 and 2008,” Jerry Ireland writes, “missions budgets for evangelism and discipleship declined by almost 11 percent, while funds for relief and development work increased by nearly 9 percent.” My guess is that this trend continued in the second decade of the twenty-first century. Both Jerry and I believe that Pentecostal mission must include evangelism and compassion. However, discipleship has a missional priority. Jerry writes, “The most compassionate thing your church can do is support missionaries discipling local people to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16).”
In today’s #InfluencePodcast, Daniel Im and I talk about how new book, No Silver Bullets: 5 Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry. Daniel argues that churches need to make five micro-shifts in ministry: (1) from destination to direction, (2) from output to input, (3) from sage to guide, (4) from form to function, and (5) from maturity to missionary. My review of the book will be up at InfluenceMagazine.com and here on Wednesday.
Chris Railey highlights the importance of church planting in the August-September issue of Influence magazine: “Church planters want to change the world, and the truth is, they are the Church’s best hope. The Assemblies of God is seeing incredible growth in the number of new churches. In fact, 2016 was the best church-planting year in our 103-year history, with 406 new churches opened. Church planters connect us to our pioneering roots; they represent the missional and Spirit-led work of expanding the kingdom of God that has always defined our movement.”
Kathleen Connors unwittingly started a chain reaction of kindness when she paid for a family’s meal at the L&M Diner in Barre, Vermont. Over the next 24 hours, 46 other patrons paid it forward and purchased meals anonymously for other customers. Connors found out that “kindness is seldom followed by a period,” Hal Donaldson writes. “One act of kindness can be the opening sentence in a volume of goodwill.”
Donaldson is president of Convoy of Hope, which he cofounded with his siblings in 1994. Since then, Convoy has distributed $1 billion of food and emergency supplies to 80 million people in the U.S. and around the world. He and his siblings were the beneficiaries of the kindness of church folk who took them in when their dad was killed and their mom seriously injured in a drunk-driving accident. “Out of anger and bitterness,” he writes, “we could have chosen a life of crime or greed.” Instead, out of thankful hearts, a charity was founded that has brought help and hope to millions.”
We often hear stories of random acts of kindness. The challenge Donaldson poses in Your Next 24 Hours is to make the day before you “day one of a more rewarding life” (emphasis in original). To help you do that, he offers 22 short chapters about how kindness can make a lasting difference in your home, workplace, school, and community. Each chapter ends with “Kind Ways,” action steps to put kindness in action. The book is written winsomely, with stories from popular culture illustrating biblical principles about kindness, gratitude, and the power of hope.
I’m a friend of Hal’s and a fan of Convoy of Hope, so I’m happy to recommend both him and the organization he leads. But I also thoroughly enjoyed this book and the advice it offers about how to make acts of kindness a nonrandom part of each day.
This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at SeaCoast Grace Church–my home church–in Cypress, California. My text was James 1:26-27, and my title was “Bad Religion vs. Good Religion.” Take a look!