I grew up in the Midwest in the 1970s, a time when that whole area of the country was in a deep recession. Though my dad was a hard worker, he was laid off numerous times because a company went bankrupt or was bought out by a competitor who let all the current employees go. It was a challenging time financially for our family. On more than one occasion I remember the pastor or a deacon from our church showing up with a bag of groceries, a box of Christmas gifts or a voucher to help pay the electric bill. Our church believed that part of being a healthy congregation was caring for those in need, especially if it was a faithful family in the church.
Later, when I got older, various pastors mentored me. Part of that mentoring included going with them on visits. Suddenly I was the one holding the bag of groceries or the box of toys while the pastor would explain that we were there to show the love of Christ to a family in need.
Showing compassion and caring about the downtrodden has always been a part of a healthy expression of the Christian faith. But churches can forget that important mission. Sometimes we get so caught up in building bigger buildings and adding fancier sound systems that we forget to care for those in need and to protect those who have been oppressed. We must constantly seek the Lord’s heart in caring for those who are unable to care for themselves. If we ever fail to do that, we have lost the very heart of what Christ has called us to do in a hurting world.
Join me in praying for churches across New England to rediscover the importance of compassion ministries. Join me in praying that we might be a voice for those on the margins of society who have often been neglected by the church.
Dr. Terry Dorsett is the executive director of the Baptist Convention of New England.