“From the Heart” teaching by Drs. Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne.
The mission of the local church is: Preaching and teaching; Making disciples; Fellowship; Worship; Missions and evangelism; Maturity of the believer; Ministry in the home; Ministry to material needs.
Ministry to material needs:
Many people religiously think of the Church merely as an institution, however, the Church is you and me; the believers; the Body of Christ. Some people seem to think that the Church’s primary and only job is to give hand outs, to feed people and fix their roofs after a hurricane, but Jesus told us first to preach the Gospel, save, heal and deliver. Jesus preached and demonstrated the Gospel, by saving, healing and delivering. When they needed food, He multiplied what they had and fed a multitude. He did this out of compassion for people. We, too, are obligated to one another in the love of the Lord. We are not responsible FOR each other, but we are responsible TO each other. We are responsible to be hospitable to the Church first and then to the world. The Church is not responsible for lazy people, but out of love for humanity, they lend a helping hand to those who are struggling as a result of circumstances beyond their control. They do this out of love, not because they are forced to do it.
1. The Early Church, motivated by the Holy Spirit and by compassion, were hospitable and gracious to one another. They cared for one another like family and shared what they had with everyone who had a need.
Acts 2:44-45 NKJV – Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
Romans 15:25-27 NKJV – But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things.
2. Everyone is responsible to meet the needs of their own family first. The Church may step in to help those who truly have no family and no help and no way to earn a living themselves. Those receiving the Church’s help, should, in turn, be serving others in the Church — not staying home and/or getting into trouble.
1 Timothy 5:3-16 NKJV – Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. 11 But refuse the younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, 12 having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. 13 And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not. 14 Therefore I desire that the younger widows marry, bear children, manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully. 15 For some have already turned aside after Satan. 16 If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.
3. Faith or true religion is not in pretending to be Holy, but in ministering to the needs of others, spirit, soul and body as we have capacity to help.
James 1:26-27 AMP – If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). 27 External religious worship [religion as it is expressed in outward acts] that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.
James 2:15-17 NKJV – If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
2 Corinthians 9:9 AMP – As it is written, He [the benevolent person] scatters abroad; He gives to the poor; His deeds of justice and goodness and kindness and benevolence will go on and endure forever!
4. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:34-46, that whatever good we do, whatever kindness we show, to others in Jesus Name, it’s as if we have done it to Him. Our kindness and generosity toward others, is a demonstration of God’s love and goodness toward them, causing them to repent and turn to Him. Jesus said in verse 40, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” And in verse 45, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.”
5. The account of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, lets us know that Jesus wants us to care for our neighbor as best we can and also that everyone is our neighbor, not just certain people.
6. The disciples concentrated their efforts on prayer, preaching the Gospel and ministering to people’s spiritual needs. In Acts 6:1-6, they appointed anointed, responsible men to minister to the material needs. Two of these men were Stephen and Philip who later did extraordinary things themselves.