Theological Implications and Principles:
Principle #1: Remember the Ultimate Goal is Discipleship
The ultimate goal of caring for others is that they come to know or grow up in Christ. Most people are needing much more than what they reveal on the surface. When helping with a physical or financial need, be open to how God might want to use you to minister to their spiritual or emotional needs.
Principle #2: Needs Are Complex, Don’t Oversimplify the Source
We all experience brokenness within from our relationship with God, self, others and the rest of creation. We also experience broken economic, social, religious and political systems from the outside. This means one’s need for care could stem from their own individual sinful behavior, the abuse of others, an oppressive system, a natural disaster, or even demonic forces. Don’t oversimplify the source of the problem when trying to help someone.
Principle #3: Involve Them and Others as Much as Possible
It’s often easy to help others in a way paternalistic way that robs dignity without even meaning to. We are one beggar coming alongside another beggar overflowing the mercy we’ve been given. We don’t want to help in a way that robs them of any dignity or opportunity to use the gifts and resources God’s given them. Ask what gifts and resources they have to help with their need. Invite others into helping as well with the hopes that they can use their gifts and build lasting relationships.
Principle #4: We Help Through Relationships, Not Programs
Because broken relationships are the core problem, restored relationships are the key solution. God’s grand system for caring is not for people to connect to a program in a social agency, but rather to connect to people in His Church. We create programs and groups in our church only to facilitate personal relationships. People will be most cared for when they are most connected to others who care most for them. Focus on caring in a way that feels more relational than transactional.
Principle #5: Invite Them to Go Deeper and Take the Next Step
Because the goal is discipleship and we help through relationships, always look for opportunities to invite the person to go deeper into the church community. Introduce them to members and ministries where they can get more connected. It will look something like this.