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If you are like me, I find that days are hectic. But they can also be filled with unexpected encounters when my heart is fine-tuned to the needs around me.

On one typical day, I picked up eight sausage poboys for a fundraiser. Then I was scurrying home from the sale when I noticed a young man at the red light with a card board sign that read, “God Bless.”

I knew he needed a handout for something, so I waived him over.

He said he had gotten in trouble in Lafayette, and he just got out of prison. He was headed home to Alabama where he belonged (insert LSU-Alabama joke here). Anyway, I said to him in a flash of biblical brilliance, “Silver and gold have I none, but in the name of Jesus Christ … I give you a poboy.”

I didn’t really say that, but I did give him the poboy. He thanked me and then continued on his mission to get to Alabama.

I meet a lot of people in Louisiana who know that if a brother is hungry, the least we can do is give a brother a sandwich. But many people will also say, with paralyzing hesitation, I don’t know how to do compassion ministry.

I don’t know what to do.

Here are four guidelines to use when developing a good compassion ministry through your church. Remember, the goal is to accomplish all four guidelines over time.

Step 1: Find Out the Need

We all understand that people are in need. But the question is, how do we discover what the needs are and how do we begin to meet the needs.

To do this we need to:

  • Get past the ‘us versus them’ mentality.
  • Get past the objection to the cost of doing a new ministry. We are planted in our churches to meet the needs of people around us. If we take care of God’s people (all people), then God will see that there are resources available to meet basic human needs.
  • Ask questions of leaders. “Who are the needy people around here?” Ask the police, principal, or civic leaders about unmet needs in your community.
  • Focus on a group. Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable. It is not our place to help able-bodied people who could be helping themselves.

Step 2: Build Trust

Needy people are usually survivors. These people are focused on meeting the needs of today. Make sure we don’t rush relationships with people we are trying to help.

Trust takes time.

This man showed up at my church one time and he said he wanted to get involved in the ministry. I told Joe (who attended infrequently, by the way), that until you master the ministry of ‘Show Up’, God can’t use you in a mighty way.

The same can be true for ministering to those who are in need. Practice “showing up” and prove that you mean what you preach. Trust will grow over time.

Step 3: Give Them Eternal Assistance – FULLY Share the Gospel

Make it personal and relational.

It is a good thing to drop a tract in a bag of groceries. But it is a much better thing, to put a loving arm around a shoulder, pour a cup of coffee and share what Jesus has done for you and what Jesus can do in the life of your new friend.

Share Jesus, start a Bible study, invite your new friend to your Sunday School class, start a church.

The gospel has not made its complete impact, until it is blended into the life of the new believer.

Step 4: Connect People to the Local Church

We ARE the church. Any group of people can collect canned goods and feed someone who is hungry. But Louisiana Baptists ARE the church.

We ARE the church.

The best thing we have going is not a box of food or a tutoring class. The best thing we have going is the local church.

We are not finished until we seek to gather people into HIS church.

If you are interested in starting a compassion ministry, click here.

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Jeffrey Cook
Well, hello! I'm jeff and I am passionate about compassion. I began working for Louisiana Baptists in 2005. I love working with dreamers who care deeply about under-served people in Louisiana. My life verse is 1 Corinthians 9:22.

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