Should Evangelical Churches Be Involved in Community Ministry and if so, WHY?

Recently J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Durham, NC asked the question, “Should Evangelical Churches Be Involved in Community Ministry and if so, WHY?” His great answer begins:

Our church is committed to physically blessing whatever area we are trying to plant churches in. By that I mean not only do we want to see churches planted, we want to see the improvement of local education, health, and politics, and standards of living, and see the decrease of crime and poverty. We engage in projects to those ends. We don’t do this as a bait and switch, as if it’s just a gimmick to get people to trust Jesus. Part of the Gospel is loving our neighbor whether or not they ever trust Jesus. As a friend of mine says, “We don’t serve to convert, we serve because we are converted.”

Thankfully, a lot of evangelical churches today are re-embracing the need to love their world soul AND body. However, they don’t always seem to agree on the reason behind why we do it. Some have never put much thought to it. There seems to be a theological haze around evangelical community ministry.

J.D. goes on to explain four different ways evangelicals have been looking at what he calls “Community Ministry.” I think he makes some very good points. I recommend reading his full blog post.

The Mercy House Vision

The Mercy House preview

The Mercy House preview

Four weeks ago I announced that the Hancock County Planning and Zoning Board approved the site plan for the “Mercy House.” Day before yesterday I posted pictures of the beginning of the new construction. Lord willing, the building will take shape next week. The above drawing renders our idea of what the finished facility might look like. We still need to decide on the color, but Mrs. Bea and I both like the color shown. :) What do you think?

The Lakeshore Mercy House will host our expanding mercy ministry which includes all the efforts currently taking place out of the “Distribution Center” quonset hut on our church property. If you have been following us since the storm, you know that thousands of folks have received assistance through our benevolence efforts. Food, clothing, household items, and other things donated to the church get distributed out to the community from here. This important ministry will continue through the permanent facility.

The location has also morphed into a sort of “third place” where locals congregate in a casual environment to gain support and encouragement from our volunteer staff and each other. While many come in looking for hard tangible assistance, like food for the night, others will often stop by just to say hi and continue relationships forged in the immediate crisis aftermath of Katrina. Daily fare often includes impromptu counseling sessions, prayer meetings, words of encouragement, evangelistic encounters, etc. We pray that this this ministry that God has graciously established will continue, flourish, and expand in the new facility as we point people to the mercy of Christ through the gospel of grace.

The Lakeshore Mercy House will also enable us to add new components to our mercy ministry. Please join Lakeshore Baptist Church in prayer as we seek God’s will in future direction and opportunity. Possibilities on our heart include financial management seminars, drug and alcohol addiction intervention and mitigation, biblical counseling, various food assistance programs, tutoring, and other things.

If you would like to contribute financially to this project, you can send donations to Lakeshore Baptist Church PO Box 293 Lakeshore MS 39558 designated for “The Lakeshore Mercy House.” Don’t forget, the ministry continues to depend on donations of food, clothing, and household items for distribution. Please see our “needs page” for a list of suggested items if you can help in this way. Thank you so much for standing along side of us as we continue to minister help and hope in the name of Jesus Christ to our community.

The Mercy House Begins

The Mercy House Begins

The Mercy House Begins

We have begun work on the Mercy House. Our friends from Crossroads Community Church of Naperville, IL funded the foundation. Volunteers from East Hartselle Baptist Church, Hartselle, AL and Central Baptist Church, Decatur, AL along with college students from Georgia set the pilings and concreted them in. Lord willing, the lumber and trusses from St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Ann Arbor MI, will arrive on Saturday and volunteers next week from Alabama and Ohio will frame it up.

Team from New York City

What do you get when you drop a group of folks from New York City into rural Lakeshore Mississippi? – A beautifully constructed back porch and priceless memories.

This group came down last summer. The Boyd’s have now moved into their completed home, thanks to hundreds of dedicated people from across the country pitching in and contributing to the “rebuild Lakeshore” project.

The Green’s Certificate of Occupancy

The Greens Move In

The Greens Move In

In the picture above, James, who has been so instrumental in our rebuilding mercy ministry, just presented the Greens with their “Certificate of Occupancy” from the City of Bay St. Louis.

Shortly after WWII, Mr. Green built his home with his own hands, where they raised 6 children. Katrina destroyed the house while Mr. Green road out the storm in 16+ feet of raging flood water – a harrowing task for anyone, but especially a man in his 80s. Living in FEMA provided housing, with no idea on where to turn, the Greens came to Lakeshore Baptist Church for help.

Volunteers began framing a new house back in August
. Countless mission teams worked back to back to complete the project. Mr. and Mrs Green are so grateful and praise God for their new home.

Hurricane season begins, rebuilding continues

Hurricane season 2009 begins, rebuilding continues

Hurricane season 2009 begins, rebuilding continues

Hurricane season 2009 begins, rebuilding continues

Hurricane season 2009 begins, rebuilding continues

June 1 marks the first day of hurricane season. Without a cloud in the sky, 100+ volunteers stormed Lakeshore with a typical big week of rebuilding and activity.

On one major project, we started another new home this week for a local family. The holes passed inspection this morning and we poured the concrete. The eager framers can’t wait to start pounding nails and watching the new house take shape.