Do Not Choose Between Church Planting and Humanitarian Ministry

When Bárbara and I began Living Bread Ministries ten years ago we had a vision to minister to the comprehensive needs of the poor.  We had seen, within the North American church, two ways of viewing church and mission.  In our little corner of the world most churches were in one of two camps; the churches that cared for physical needs and those who cared for spiritual.  Often both camps held an air of superiority over one another.

We saw the biblical call to both and wanted to plant churches among the poor and needy who understood this as well.  What developed was a comprehensive, whole gospel, approach to ministering among the global poor.  Central to our efforts is church planting among the poor which is in itself unusual.  In addition, we go a step further and equip each of our church plants to minister in a comprehensive way in their community.

We are church planting among the most needy, and through our church plants we are addressing the real physical, educational, relational, AND spiritual needs of the individuals and communities we work in.  When you support Living Bread you are supporting a comprehensive work that is involved in church planting and, through those church plants, aid and development work.  You really don’t have to choose between church planting and humanitarian ministry when choosing how to invest in the kingdom of God.

 

Interview on Church Planter Podcast

Earlier this week I was blessed with the opportunity to be interviewed for the Church Planter Podcast.  The podcast and Church Planter Magazine are both excellent resources for church planters and have articles and interviews from many on the cutting edge of church planting.  Peyton and Pete have a heart for equipping serial planters through both of these avenues as well as the New Breed Church Planting network.

In this interview we discuss my work with Living Bread Ministries and why church planting among the global poor must be central to all of our efforts to minister among the poor. Regardless of the need, spiritual or physical, a thriving local church is central to the answer.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the interview.

 

He Has Made Us One – Free Download

My friend, Nate White, recently recorded an EP and I must say it has been in my CD player for months. The theological depth and his understanding of the Church and her mission is captivating.  Nate recently made the EP available for free download on NoiseTrade.  He believes in the message of his music and wants to see the Church blessed by it.  To this end, should you choose to leave a tip, Nate and Dianne have committed to giving 100% of the tips to Living Bread Ministries to fund church planting among the global poor.  Go pick up a copy, be blessed, and be a blessing!

Reflections on Orphan Sunday

Yesterday was Orphan Sunday.  I am grateful that we set aside a day to reflect on our responsibility to care for the fatherless and the orphan.  Personally I am a big proponent of adoption.  Both of my brothers are adopted from foster care and I grew up with many foster children coming and going from my house.  I knew the joy of having new “brothers and sisters” and I knew the sadness of loss when they would leave, often without saying goodbye.  My wife and I have also worked in a group home setting, caring for at risk children and youth.  Adoption and foster care are beautiful things that the body of Christ should be involved in.

That being said, I also struggle with the way we perceive orphan care.  Maybe its just my little corner of the world, but it seems like our discussions of orphan care are too often exclusively framed from the perspective of western adoption.  We talk as if we can solve the global orphan problem by adopting all of them.  The reality is there are only 115,000 orphans in the USA and we cannot even eradicate this problem with adoption so how on earth will we ever care for the 153 million orphans globally?  Do we stop to realize that the number of orphans globally is almost 50% of the entire population of the United States?Adoption can and must be part of the solution, but lets not kid ourselves it will only be a very small part.

Another way we advocate caring for orphans is to build orphanages. While I am a big supporter of adoption I am not a huge proponent of orphanages.  Why not?  We stopped operating orphanages in the United States a long time ago.  We did so because we realized that children are much better off in a family environment not an institutional one. When we stopped putting kids in orphanages we switched to foster care.  Even with foster care we prioritize returning children to their biological families, if possible, because we believe that this is best.  If we believe this is what is best for North American children why do we not advocate for the same treatment of orphans globally?

Personally, I believe the best approach to orphan care begins with the manifest presence of Christ in a given community, the local church.  What if our approach centered around empowering local churches among the poor and disenfranchised to care for those around them?  (This is the approach we take at Living Bread Ministries.)  What if the first thing we did was to partner with local churches in helping poor families (mothers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles) care for their own children.  Rather than giving the poor incentives to abandon their children, what if we helped them care for their own?  When this is not possible what if we invested in equipping local believers to care for the orphans among them and even gave some resources to help make this possible?  It’s my experience that poor indigenous churches and individual believers are more than willing to care for the orphans in their midst, but they lack basic resources to do so.  Once these two avenues are exhausted or in cases where they are not an option then western adoption becomes the final piece to the puzzle.

I realize there are many hurdles to overcome with this approach.  However, its worth the hard work to make a real impact on the orphan crisis.  We cannot continue to function as if western adoption is the answer.  In 2012 US parents adopted 8,668 children through international adoption (8,668 of 153 million). These numbers have dropped consistently because of tightening regulations globally.  Clearly, we need a multifaceted approach and I believe the one I have shared is worthy of consideration.  What do you think?

Bloggers For The Poor

I have always been impressed with John Wesley.  Regardless of your theological persuasion no one can deny that he was used greatly by the Lord.  Though he was brilliant, he was much more interested in the practical expression of what he believed; something very mush needed in the Western church today.

He was also a great advocate for the poor and oppressed.  He spoke often of begging for the poor.  This has stuck with me and I very much see my role as the leader of Living Bread Ministries in much the same way.  Picking up on this I have been thinking of ways to allow others to advocate, or beg, for the poor.

I have come up with www.bloggersforthepoor.org; a network of bloggers advocating for the work of Living Bread planting churches among the global poor and equipping them to minister in their communities in a comprehensive way.  If you have a blog I encourage you to check it out.  It’s a great way for you to impact the lives of the global poor and fight things like hunger and human trafficking!