While writing this article I was reminded about this song by Casting Crowns called “Does Anybody Hear Her” which seems to hit the nail on the head.
Do Churches Still Help?
I had a conversation recently where we were discussing the place of “para-church ministries” within the realm of global and local missions and it dawned on me that North American churches (and many para-church ministries) are lagging way behind the secular world when it comes to having the reputation of being helpful people.
Back in “the day”… [you know “the day” when your granddad had to walk back and forth from school, up-hill both ways, in 6 feet of snow (and he was only 4 feet tall), in only his socks, dragging a 300 pound bag of books, and only ate dirt for lunch… and LIKED IT!]… it used to be that the church was the premier place to come for help, protection, comfort, healing and peace. We were the first call for education, healthcare, protection from tyrants, help for the poor, the lonely, the bereaved, the lost, etc.
But now, honestly ask yourself: Why would anyone call the average North American Church for help? Or for that matter, the average North American Christian? If they are sick, they go to the hospital. If they’re poor, call the government. Hurt, lonely or afraid? Call a 1-800 help line. If they’re addicted to drugs, they can get into a secular program. Protection from tyrants? Go to the police. If they feel bad or need to make a life change, call a psychologist. If they are unhappy, call a psychiatrist. It seems that the church has lost (or given up) almost everything it once did to help people.
Individual Christians have a hard time with this too. We have lots of excuses why we don’t stop to help someone in need. “I have to protect my family.” “I could get hurt.” “I don’t know anything about medicine or cars.” “I’m too busy.” Lots of excuses… most of which stink.
The Speed Dial Principle
So, here’s a challenge for all Christians to get back to their roots of being people full of grace and mercy. I’m going to call it the “Speed Dial Principle”.
Here’s how it goes:
I propose that we do everything we can to be the first call on everyone’s speed-dial. It is my hope that those around us, without a shadow of a doubt, know that we can be counted on to help NO MATTER WHAT is going on in their life!!!
- How many phones do you have with speed-dial?
- Who are the top 3 people and why are they there?
- Are you on the top of anyone’s speed-dial list?
- Using your position on other people’s speed-dial as your reference, how good is your reputation as a helper? [First call, second call, last choice, not even thought of]?
I propose we try to live our lives as someone trying to make themselves the number one person on everyone’s speed-dial. We want to be their #1 button because they know we are a great friend will never let them down, we have resources to help, and will be there full of joy and without condemnation. Whether it’s helping carry in the groceries, driving someone to another province, helping a kid with homework, cleaning someone else’ house, making a meal or picking up your drunk friend after too much partying… what can you do to be the first person they call.
What about you? What do you think of the “Speed-Dial Principle”? Is it realistic? How can we help our local churches reclaim their ministries of grace and mercy?