Recipe for Community Ministry: The Least

I am often asked what churches can do to grow. I have found myself repeatedly encouraging congregations to engage in the kind of ministry Jesus did and reach out to the least, the lost, and the left out in your community. I believe Jesus gives us this recipe for community ministry in Luke 15 through the stories of the lost coin, the lost son, and the lost sheep.
In Luke 15:8-10, Jesus tells a parable of a woman who loses a single coin and turns her house upside down to find it. When she finds it, she calls together her friends and neighbors to celebrate. Biblical scholars point out that the monetary value of the lost coin was miniscule. Who among us would waste our time searching for a penny?! And who of us would throw a party when we found one?! From our perspective, it is just a coin of low value. But Jesus shares that what we see as insignificant is in fact of great value in God’s economy!
I have no doubt that our church is full of Jesus-loving people who earnestly desire growth. But I also have a hunch that the kind of growth we subconsciously prefer would be people who may look like us, talk like us, think like us, and hopefully have capacity to be significant financial contributors. After all, wealthy people who share our beliefs can really help the church. The poor, on the other hand, seem to have little to offer.
But what if the church desired to reach first and foremost the people who had the least to offer and the most to gain? What would happen if instead of focusing on those who would be most beneficial to the church, the church focused on the individuals that we could benefit the most? From a worldly point of view, the poor may not appear to be of great value to the church. But from God’s point of view, the least among us is worth the passionate investment of our time just like the woman in Jesus’ story who searched tirelessly for the lost coin.
The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus’ care for the poor. If the poor were important to Jesus, then they should certainly be important to us still today. God is calling us to reach out to the least in our community in a meaningful way. Let’s get serious about ministering to those who have the most to gain in Christ Jesus. And let’s get creative and not simply default to a handout. Instead, take the time to invest in getting to know the people that live all around us. Learn their names, become their friends, listen to their stories, pray with and for them, and ask the all-important question, “How can we be a blessing to you and your family.” And don’t forget to rejoice and celebrate what God has done when the lost is found!
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or Like us on Facebook:

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