Every Member … Mercy Ministry?

A good observation by Tim Keller in his book Ministries of Mercy:

We have done a good job of teaching that every believer is a minister and to be a witness. But we haven’t done a good job of teaching that every Christian is to be engaged in mercy ministries. We have almost completely ceded this work to secular agencies and authorities.

  • J.A.S.

    Is this quote true? Didn’t the apostles in Jerusalem say it wouldn’t be right for them to give up their teaching, prayer, etc. ministry to serve tables, and so they appointed deacons? Wouldn’t you say that while Paul did collect an offering for the Jerusalem church that he was primarily, and often completely, focused on word ministries instead of service/mercy ministries, unless you include the most merciful of all acts (proclaiming the Gospel) as a mercy ministry. In a sense, we might be arguing from silence either way. The above and the description of elders all seem to suggest that different giftings/callings exist in the church and not everyone does everything, hence, the arm does what an arm does, and so the mouth, the hands, the ear, etc. I think the Keller statement above argues that each believer is to be as diverse as the entire church is called to be which isn’t helpful in my mind.

  • http://www.activecompassionphilly.org David Apple

    As a student of Keller’s teaching, I have a new resource for deacons and others based on over twenty-five years of ministry at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. Not Just a Soup Kitchen is published by CLC Publications and listed as one of the top books on practical theology. Blessings.Here is what some of my endorsers say:

    Dr. Philip G. Ryken, President, Wheaton College: “David Apple’s life is a story of mercy received and then freely given to others. Through a lifetime of friendship to the urban poor, Dr. Apple has learned many valuable lessons about serving people in need. In this complete guide to mercy ministry, he explains biblical principles for healing, tells captivating stories of personal transformation, gives wise warnings about the mistakes that people often make in ministry, and shares many practical suggestions for truly addressing spiritual and material needs.”

    Dr. John Perkins, Co-founder of Christian Community Development Association: “This book is helpful to all those seeking to move beyond doing charity at an arm’s length and actually empower those we are serving and bring them fully into the life of the church. I strongly encourage both church leaders and lay people looking to deepen their understanding of service to read this book.”

    Dr. Peter A. Lillback, President, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia: David Apple is a veteran from the front lines of the ministry of mercy. This practical and clear guide offers real life wisdom gleaned from countless lives blessed through Christ-like care. Through “Not Just A Soup Kitchen”, you and your congregation can be transformed as you partake of the spiritual nourishment offered here.