Standing for the poor and needy

The following are the notes from a seminar given in 2018.

Further reading:

“Mercy ministries” by Tim Keller, “Good news for the poor” by Tim Chester.

[A] Why should we be standing up for the poor and needy?

1)   Because we are called to godliness (Ps 82v1-4, Matt 28v18-20)

We were created in God’s image to rule over the creation like God. And his rule displays a concern for justice where people are oppressed – defending and rescuing the weak and needy (Ps 82v1-4). As those who are taught to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matt 28v18-20), we therefore share his particular concern for the downtrodden. And because our calling is to display God’s rule in the spheres of life he has called us to, this concern is not limited to the downtrodden within the church, but those we can influence through the networks of church, family, work, charities etc.

2)   Because we are called to evangelism (1 Pet 2v9-12, Matt 5v14-16).

Some argue that social action is evangelism. They say we never need to actually share the gospel. If we just do good people will come to faith. This is obviously false. The gospel is God’s power for salvation (Rom 1v16-17). Others argue that social action detracts from evangelism. But this is also false. We are called to declare to the world the excellencies of God whilst doing such good deeds that even opponents are drawn to hear, believe, and “glorify God on the day he visits.” (1 Pet 2v9-12). This is what Jesus meant by the church being like “a city on a hill” lit up by his truth and goodness (Matt 5v14-16).

The example of the early church – Dickson and today – Timmis. If we stopped objection focused events and moved to caring focused events, I wonder whether we would see a lot more fruit.

Being honest: I wonder to some extent if we have it wrong. We run our programs and get involved in our clubs, all of which are geared to people like us, rather middle class and comfortable. But none reaching the truly needy. Yet if gave this time to serving the needy, we have as many relationships with which to share the gospel, and commend it to the middle classes who are more likely to be drawn by that, than our middle class niceness

[B] Who exactly should we be standing up for?

1)   Christians

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 Jn 3v17-18)

2)   Non-Christians

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deut 10v17-19, also 14v28-29, 24v19-22, Jam 1v27, Act 10v31, Gal 2v10)

Q: Who are needy because:


People groups in our area

Individuals you know

They lack the basic provision that others have?



They have no-one to look after them as others do?



They are more prone to being oppressed?



They are particularly excluded or ignored?



Q: Brainstorm: What are these people’s most felt needs?

[C] How exactly might we stand up for them?

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Is 1v15-17)

1)    Advocacy: ideas, CG letters to gov or MP

2)    Awareness: coffee mornings, lectures, crisis collections

3)    Action

1.    Giving love: for and to individuals

2.    Giving time: so can practically help

3.    Giving money: as CG to particular needs with relationship

4.    Giving things: foodbank, shoe box

Biblically speaking, where possible, our action should seek lasting transformation not mere relief. This respects people as in God’s image and called to rule over themselves and the world. In the OT, debt would be cancelled and land returned, but so people could work it for themselves.

[D] What exactly can we do?

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Gal 6v9-10)

1)    Doing good will tire us out

2)    Doing good receives eternal reward

3)    Doing good depends on opportunity

4)    Doing good looks first to believers

5)    Doing good does not neglect unbelievers





Our church

Churches in crisis


Our town

Countries in crisis


Q: What opportunity do we have for doing good through our church, community groups, families, Christian friendships:

1)    With the resources God has given us

2)    With the gifts God has given us

3)    Through the networks God has given us


















 A LTN (love thy neighbour) or Luke10 visiting scheme: For the housebound or struggling: (Transport?), shopping, visiting, basic DIY, other help, debt advice, relationships counselling. Just call and ask. “If we can we will.”

How can we help those oppressed and broken by secularism? What of drop in for non-judgmental listening ear – bereavement, regret over abortion, unwanted pregnancy, relationship struggles etc

Ethos: respect the person – give time and conversation as much as action, seek their opinion and empower their activity.

Ideas from the school

Things that we have to deal with mostly in our school are

  • Parenting and behaviour - no boundaries leading to difficulties managing behaviour in the home. Impact on the family.
  • Alcoholism - leading to neglect
  • Divorce - impact on split/broken/fighting families on children. Also debt associated with divorce/large mortgages etc
  • Drug abuse - leading to chaotic households
  • Mental well-being - parents and children
  • Physical abuse - sometimes cultural
  • Neglect - headlice, clothing, food
  • Children with no help from home ie hear them read etc

Ways to help:

  • Parenting groups - self help, behaviour chats etc [we could run this]
  • Time to talk for adults and children [non-judgmental listening ear time]
  • Meditation – well-being support
  • Food vouchers [foodbank links]
  • Supporting with headlice treatments etc [what would that involve]
  • Sign posting - debt support, drug awareness etc [money course through school?]

A gap. Possible money course help as people hit by universal credit.

[E] Making it happen

1)    Commit to a simpler lifestyle – free up time and money

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk 12v29-34) “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8v9)

1)    Motivated by God’s grace to us though undeserving

2)    We act in grace to those who may be undeserving

God has given you what he’s given so that you might give of it to the poor.

How can I learn contentment with less?

How can I have less so I can give more? Downgrading house, car, pension payments, phone contract. Selling possessions not really needed. Less regular or exotic holidays. Buy second hand over new. Cut meals or coffees out by half.

How can I do less so I can help more? Cutting back on work hours to free up time. Less TV or hobbies. Including needy in family life.

2)    Practice your gifting – ensure you play any part you can play

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Rom 12v6-8)

·       We need those who teach (motivators), lead (organizers), give (funders),

serve (doers), encourage (comforters), show mercy (carers)

3)    Don’t forget hospitality – what all should do without formal organization

“’Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” (Is 58v6-7) “Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbours; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’” (Luke 14v12-14)