Category Archives: Causes

Change Our Behavior Or Change Our Name!

There is a story about a young man that was brought before Alexander the Great. The young man had stolen a horse and was brought in by the guards so he could be judged. Knowing that this was an offense that was severely punished, everyone waited to see what Alexander would do.

Alexander looked at the boy and was moved by the look of fear on his face. Thinking of leniency, Alexander asked the boy his name. The boy looked up and sheepishly said, “Alexander”. The Emperor taken back, moved toward the boy in anger and said, “Boy, what is your name?” The boy afraid for his life said, “Alexander sir.” No more did the word come out of his mouth that the emperor jumped on the boy and threw him to the ground. Enraged he pointed at the boy and said, “Boy, change your behavior or change your name!”

I am not sure of the authenticity of the story, but I think the point is well taken. We need to walk our talk!

The Bible in the book of James says, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.  But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (James 2:14-17)

There are needs all around us. We need to be busy helping to meet those needs. The church has ignored the cries of those around them for too long. We have lost of credibility as people helpers. When is the last time a church has been invited to meetings about social needs? Helping reduce crime, eradicate poverty, provide affordable housing, help the homeless. These and hundreds of other social needs are crying out for help. Where are we? If we were brought before Jesus today and had to give an account of what we and our churches are doing to make a difference outside our four walls, what would He say? Would we hear, “Well done good and faithful servant!” or “Change your behavior or change your name!”

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More Than Caring

More Than Caring“Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

James 2:15-16

 

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own life that we forget about those all around us who are in need. We can’t save the whole world, so we don’t try to save just one. “Someone else will help”, we think as we walk away. But James says that we have to do more than just “care” about the poor, we need to help. In his book, “Irresistible Revolution”, Shane Claiborne shares about a survey he took of American Christians. He found that 80% believed that Jesus spent time with the poor. When asked if they spent any time with the poor, only 20% of the same group said, “yes.” Shane concluded, “We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.” James talks about our apathy toward the poor in this way, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”  It is not good enough to care about the poor. If we follow Christ we need to do something.

 

 We have to ask ourselves, “Where are we making a difference?” Is it in the entertainment industry? Is it in business ethics? Is it in the societies’ views on sex and marriage? Is it in the justice system? But, you say, “That is the world’s system.” That’s my point! When did we abdicate the decisions on morality, love and justice to the world? When did we leave the room? Why isn’t our corporate witness making a difference? Why isn’t the love of  God in His people making a bigger difference in the world? It can, if we choose to live according to His word.

Over and over again in the Old Testament we read about God’s judgment on His people for turning their back on poverty and injustice. God was appalled at the fact that the poor were ignored. In his classic book, “Visioneering”, Andy Stanley shares what he felt was Nehemiah’s compelling reason for casting his vision of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Andy points out that Nehemiah told the people, “Come let us rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Why rebuild the walls? Because the torn down walls were a disgrace to God and His people. One translation uses the word “reproach”. The torn down walls, the disgraced city was a disgrace to anyone who called themselves a Jew and brought reproach to God in front of all the nations. We need to see that the American Suburban Church sitting with all its wealth and resources, with neighbors all around in utter poverty is the same reproach to God. Why? Because it is a gross misrepresentation of the love of God. As a result, the world does not see God or His church as a significant influence or reason for hope. Instead, our Government and corporations are seen as the savior of the solution to blighted communities. We need to glorify God by showing what His power through His people, people of all races working together, can do. Then maybe the world will join in on the song, “They will know we are Christians by our love.”

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Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

Want to know how to use your business skills for ministry download a free copy of Compassionate Capitalist

 

Businesses Can Do Missions Too!

I have been an advocate for Christian Businesses getting involved in ministry for a long time. If you want to know what I think you can download Compassionate Capitalist and learn many different ways your business could get involved in doing good. If that is not enough then I invite you to look over this list of books that feature Businesses that are involved in Missions and doing good. Here is the list:

  1. God is at Work: Ken Eldred
  2. Business as Mission: Michael Baer
  3. The Missional Entrepreneur
  4. Great Commission Companies
  5. Kingdom Catalyst: Johnny Combs
  6. Business for the Glory of God: Wayne Grudem
  7. God at Work: Gene Veith
  8. Business as a Calling: Michael Novak
  9. God is my CEO: Larry Julian

Want to know how to use your business skills for ministry download a free copy of Compassionate Capitalist by Ron Ovitt

 

 

We Have A Great Hope

WE HAVE A GREAT HOPE

We have a great hope
that together
we can make a difference,
that one day we will see:

the promises of our faith,
the fruits of our labor,
and the results of our perseverance.

With churches reaching out to communities,
sharing the gospel and meeting the needs of
the poor and needy, we believe it is possible to have:

Neighborhood sanctuaries full,
 integrated with people from all races
praising God together.  

Streets that are safe to walk on,
without gangs or violence.
 
Families intact, so no spouse or
child will ever suffer from abuse.

Every student excelling, in good schools,
having an equal opportunity
to reach their fullest potential.

The elderly living in comfort and dignity,
in communities with neighbors
of all ages, races and income,
gladly loving each other.

Job readiness, retention and advancement for all people,
allowing families to earn the income they need.  

Mixed income neighborhoods,
not displacing the poor, but living as equal.
 
Every person with enough to eat,
no more need for homeless shelters,
soup kitchens or begging on the streets.

Every family with access to the best medical care.

We have this hope because of the living God,
His Word and His Church.

A hope kept alive,
because we are the called ones
commanded to live a life of love.

But hope without obedience is despair
and faith without works is dead.

Therefore we will strive, one community at a time,
churches joining other churches
making a difference
house by house, street by street
fulfilling His great desire, that

“as you have done it to the least of these,
you have done it to me.”   
      
REO

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For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at ron@calvaryop.org and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.layministry.com for helpful materials.

Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?
 

Your Church Can Do Good Using Secular Money

The Scriptures are uncompromising. We ARE to help the poor and needy. But what do you do when the need is greater than your church has resources for? The obvious answer is to get money from other resources. However it is not that easy. There has long been a suspion that to recieve dollars from other sources, we have to give up our religious freedom. That does not have to be so.

Now there may be times when the government may put stipulations on donations but usually these do not stop the Church from being the church.

 For example, some missions will not give out food unless the patrons listen to a sermon first. Personally, I do not like that approach. I would rather them get the food and if my love speaks loud enough they will listen to what I have to say about our Savior.

The government feels an obligation to supply food and shelter and would love to have churches donate space and labor. We can win the friendship of those we minister to and invite them to other church functions, Bible studies or mentoring. If we offer a job skills class and the government is not paying for it, they cannot stop us from teaching what the Bible teaches on life skills and the importance of the knowing Christ and the hope He gives. Giving food does not give them the right to intervere with other parts of our ministry.

Using Secular Resources
 In our society there is much talk about the separation of church and state. With the rise of “faith-based initiatives” we see doors of cooperation beginning to open. There are many good secular resources that the church can access to restore a community. Everyone wins when a city is reborn so a municipal government has a lot to gain if synergy between state and church can produce results. What concerns many Christians, however, is having strings attached to any secular grants or cooperation. For example, the government may have serious reservations about giving a grant to run an evangelistic campaign. However, they may jump at the opportunity to underwrite shelter for homeless men, provided that it is offered to anyone who is in need without discrimination to religious preference. Many Christian organizations use the government to help pay for some of the utilitarian needs of their clients and use private donations to pay for the spiritual. You cannot use government funds and force people to participate in religious programs but this does not mean that you cannot offer Bible study lessons or Christian counseling  for those that choose to participate.
 I am sure that Nehemiah would have had serious reservations if the King said, “Sure you can have the wood but do not turn Jerusalem into a Holy City for your God, do not worship within the gates made with state supplied wood.” I am sure that Nehemiah would have turned down that offer. But that didn’t happened. The King knew that in the end the greater Jerusalem area would become a separate providence, separating it from the Samaritan overlords, and that he would appoint Nehemiah Governor of this new Jewish province.
 Today there is a great opportunity to use government and private dollars to fund social projects. There seems to be a renewed interest in funding programs that work, regardless of whether they are faith-based or not. This could mean government funds for some of the non-evangelistic work that so many Christian ministries do. English as a second language, transitional housing, transportation and job training are just a few of the tasks that Christian organizations do to meet many physical and emotional needs of their constituents. These deeds are done because of the love of Christ. For many organizations it gives them the ability to introduce their clients to Christianity.

Government and Churches Working Together
On Monday, August 20, 2001 The USA Today printed an article called, This Partnership Of Government And Faith Succeeds. The article talks about a Haitian couple and their four children who have been living in an apartment in Roslindale, a neighborhood in the city of Boston. They have been in Roslindale for 15 years, where the father is a high school teacher and the mother is a case manager for a Head Start program. They wanted to buy a house and stay in the neighborhood where they had been living. The problem was the cost of a modest single family home was $250,000! The mortgage payment would be $2,000 a month, which they could not afford on their $60,000 a year joint income. Now here is a couple that anyone should be proud to have as neighbors; but even on $60,000 a year they cannot afford to buy a market-value home.
 The solution to this couple came when the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization decided to build homes in the area that would be within the reach of working-class residents. The home would require $700 a month. These would be two-family homes selling for less than $200,000 allowing the new owner to rent one-half for $700 and leaving them to pay the balance of $700. Because of lower interest rates, even a couple making $30,000 could afford one of these homes.
 The homes were ironically called Nehemiah Homes. Nehemiah out of Brooklyn, New York began nearly twenty years ago and has built over 4,430 homes in some of the most deplorable areas. Their success rate of turning around distraught neighborhoods is phenomenal.
 Nehemiah Homes started when it protested against New York City’s “planned shrinkage”. This was a plan to deliberately let its poorest neighborhoods deteriorate, assuming that it wasn’t worth the investment to keep the community intact. Nehemiah proved them wrong. Where there were once junkies and muggers, now there are homes owned by nurses’ aides, probation officers and other people from a mixed-ethnic working class. Crime has plummeted and a recent study done by Fannie Mae Foundation has shown that the Nehemiah homes raised property values of the entire area.
 The USA Today wrote about the Nehemiah Homes program:

  From its genesis in Brooklyn to its new frontier in Boston, the Nehemiah program has relied on collaboration between public and religious bodies. Local or state governments donate and clear large blocks of land, permitting economical construction, and provide one-time subsidies of about $15,000 and often tax abatements. Private banks, eager to provide service to inner cities as required by federal law, compete in offering mortgages below market rate. Congregations and denominations raise the money themselves to pay for construction, their capital going into a trust fund that is replenished as homes are bought and paid for.
 In the South Bronx, for instance, a $3.2 million trust fund will have paid for $84 million in total construction by early 2002. Banks will have written $66 million in mortgages, while New York City will have invested $14 million in recoverable subsidies, cheap land and tax abatements. And 860 multifamily homes will have risen in what was the very definition of urban disaster.

 As Evangelicals, we can go into a community and through the church do the same things as the people in the article did. If we did, what a testimony the church would have. What an outreach! This model would be more than church planting, it would be church and community planting. The two would grow together. This is a powerful New Testament model of community.
 Christian organizations need to depend upon God to be the resource of their ministry, especially as it relates to evangelism, Bible teaching and discipleship. However, if it were possible to receive financial help for some of the brick and mortar or to underwrite the more secular type duties, with no strings that would hamper the core ministry, then the funds could be gladly accepted. It is a good use of our tax dollars to give to programs that are working.  

For more information on how your church can get involved in reaching the community e-mail Ron Ovitt at ron@calvaryop.org and we will send you a copy of Close To The Heart of God. Also go to www.layministry.com for helpful materials.

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Do you want to know more about your Spiritual Gifts? CLICK HERE to download your free Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook. 

To learn more how you can get started in ministry, CLICK HERE to download your free copy of How Am I Wired For Ministry?

Are You Guilty of Cultural Bias?

In ministry it is very easy to let our cultural bias, or the way we have been taught to see the world, stop us from being sensitive to the differences we experience in others. When I first met with leaders of Christian community development organizations to discuss bringing groups of adults into their community for mission trips, many of the leaders shared with me their reluctance. The common concern was the fact that so often, good intentioned people end up being an offense. It is easy to be insensitive to the effect we have on other people. For example, we can give cues that are condescending. Comments like, “My, your child sure is well behaved” often comes with a perceived presumption of disbelief, as if to say, “Wow, am I surprised that your children know how to behave.” Often we are more deeply shaped by stereotypical thinking than we are comfortable admitting. This results in cultural bias.
 Part of the reason that we can be so insensitive is that most urban areas are much more culturally diverse than a lot of the churches in America. All we know is the stereotypical images that we see on television. Why is it we expect a foreign missionary to study languages and learn all about the nation they will go to and yet we often do not know anything about the different cultures right in our own urban areas? We need to learn about different ethnic groups through cross-cultural training. We need to train in such a way that we learn sensitivity, respect and love for those that we are going to work with.
 It is hard to admit that we are culturally bias and insensitive, but if we allow God, He can point out any prejudice and ignorance that we have. Then, in His mercy, He can give us understanding and a sensitive spirit to other people. But this is easier said than done.
 I have had to wrestle with prejudice in my own heart. This was extremely difficult because I felt that I wasn’t prejudice. I did not use pejorative language when it came to someone of different color. I didn’t share racial jokes or feel any hatred in my heart. I was convinced that I did not have racial attitudes until I started hearing talk of affirmative action. Until I felt that my own children were victims of reverse discrimination. Until I heard appeals for reparations, because of an economy that benefited from slavery in this country. This movement toward more equality among races started to anger me. This is when I had to face the deep secrets hidden in my own heart. I had to admit that there was a definition of prejudice that I had not considered. It was the simple but deeply profound fact that in this country I was part of the majority. It was the result of pure math. In America, majority rules. Majority has privilege. I never have had the problem of discrimination that a minority person has had in this country.  
 As I considered what I took for granted in my life, I had to admit that much of it was the result of  the color of my skin. Being “white” allowed me membership into a large exclusive club. And in this country this membership has its privileges. Through study and listening to others who have wrestled with this issue, I started to expand my awareness of a lot of the privileges I had, those that I took for granted were mine simply because of my race. This is when I began to see my prejudice and discrimination toward those that were different.
 When I saw that the privilege that I had experienced came as a result of injustice to those unlike me, I had to admit that I was part of a system that rewarded the majority at the expense of the non-majority. The result  was prejudice. It is this awareness that allowed me to begin to feel a sense of remorse and sorrow over the wrongs that have been inflicted on others by my race. I have come to recognize that it is my race that benefited from slavery. It is my race that has benefited from the poor wages of immigrants. It is my race that has participated in better schools, medical treatment, job placement, loans and everything else that comes with being white in America. It is this deeper awareness that has given me a better sense of what injustice is. It is the beginning of this awareness that has opened up for me a much deeper and more meaningful dialog with those that are a minority in this country and is helping me take action toward the wrongs I and my race have done. It is helping me take a stand against a system that ignores the needs of the poor. Prejudice is alive and doing well in the church today and until we start to talk about it and root it out, we will not see people the way God truly sees them. We will not love in the way that He loves.

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Want to know more about Spiritual Gifts? Download your FREE copy of our Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook.  CLICK HERE for a Spiritual Gifts Test and workbook

 What are some ways that you can minister? You can find out more about that in our workbook How Am I Wired For Ministry?  CLICK HERE for your FREE download of How Am I Wired for Ministry.

What Cause Do You Want To Serve? Take the Cause Inventory

 Cause Inventory
 To help us understand more about the causes that we prefer we have created this Cause Inventory. In this assessment tool there are twelve major categories of causes listed for your review. Please look at each category of causes and read the phrases associated with the cause. Next rate your interest in that cause on a scale of 1 through 10; 1 meaning no interest in the category or any of the phrases; and 10 meaning that one or more of the phrases (or one of your own) in the category really interests you. Remember, not every phrase in the category is going to appeal to you. The question is, does any of the phrases appeal to you? If so, how much? If you feel very strong about one of the phrases in the category, then you would circle the phrase(s) that appeals to you and rate the whole category high. Likewise, if the category appeals to you, but there is not a phrase that expresses your interest, write in your own on the blank line, circle it and rate the category high. 
 For example in Medical Causes, health care reform may not interest you at all  but finding a cure for a disease does, especially your interest in breast cancer. You are passionate about the fight against this deadly disease. So you would circle, “Help find a cure for a disease” and would rate the category very high, perhaps a 8, 9 or 10. You are looking for a cause within a category that appeals to you.  
 If the category title does not interest you or if none of the phrases stir any emotion, then the category would rate low, perhaps a 3, 2 or 1. After looking at these categories, please feel free to take the Ministry Cause Checklist and compare your answers.
 
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1. Medical Causes
Help find a cure for a disease
Fund a medical research facility   
Support medical schools   
Provide clean water for 3rd world countries
Help prevent the spread of deadly diseases
Being involved in medical research
Build state of the art medical facilities
Health care reform
Work for mental health care
International medical aid and relief
Prevent disease in 3rd world countries
Other __________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Medical Causes 1-10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much  so)    

Your Score ______

2. Social Causes
Provide low cost housing for the poor
Make neighborhoods safe
Correction and rehabilitation/prison issues
Arms control   
Microenterprising
Stop domestic violence
Social community development
Assist with disaster preparedness    
Help stop hunger
Help the homeless find shelter
Other __________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Social Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

3. Earth Causes
Help stop pollution
Protect the rainforest   
Recycle
Control over population
Conserve natural habitats
Stop polluting the oceans
Preserve parks and forests
Conserve energy
Find alternative energy
Pass environmental laws
Waste management
Other_________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Earth Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

4. Christian Causes
Support a missionary
Evangelism
Christian College/Seminary
Christian Legal Fund
Giving to your church
Christian radio and television
Serving at your church
Christian youth programs
Medical missions
Urban missions
Bible translators
10/40 window
Aid to tortured Christians
Other_________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Christian Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

5. Youth Causes
Youth counseling
Teenage pregnancy
Youth sports program
Gang prevention
Prevent drug abuse
After school safe place
GED program
Teen camp
Mentoring youth
Youth work program
Youth arts program
Parent/teen relationship training
Teen suicide
Runaway youth counseling
Youth counseling center
Youth political organization
Other ________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Youth Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

6. Civil/Political Causes
Support voting reform
Support your view of gun control   
Support right to life
Fight for tax reform
Increase our national defense
Campaign reform
Multicultural issues
Stop anti-hate groups
Freedom of speech issues
Community politics
Nuclear disarmament
Anti-pornography
Support political party
Election campaign
Other ________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Political Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

7. Educational Causes
Tutoring program
Scholarships
Computer labs in every school
Special education
Education for children with disabilities
Sports programs
College fund
Graduate school fund
Research grants
Head start program
Literacy program   
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Educational Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

8. Art and Cultural Causes
Support art museum
Support performing arts
Humanities and historical societies
Community theater
Cultural center
College of the arts
Dance repertory
Inner-city arts programs
Support historical museum
Music camps
Historical memorial
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Arts/Cultural Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

9. Scientific Causes
Genetic engineering
Medical ethics
Science department of college
Research grants
Space program
Scientific exploration
Science fellowships
Agricultural research
Cloning issues
Technology research
Creation research
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Scientific Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

10. Elderly Causes
Alzheimer’s research
Senior daycare
Hospice care
Providing senior citizen services
Independent living facilities
Senior employment
Affordable senior housing
Senior home repair
Nursing care
Assisted living
Health care for seniors
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Elderly Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

11. Children’s Causes
Boy/Girl Scouts
Big Brother/Sister
Adoption
Foster care
Homeless children
Children’s hospital
Missing children
Children’s diseases
Prevent child abuse
Parenting skills training
Prevent birth defects
Child labor laws/rights
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Children’s Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

12. Animal Causes
Veterinarian Schools   
Save the whales
Protect endangered species
Humane treatment for animals
Stop testing on animals
Support the zoo
Wetlands initiative
Audubon Society
Wildlife protection
Support aquariums
Animal shelter
Other _________________________________

Rate Your Interest In Animal Causes 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

13. Other
 We have not listed all the categories or causes in the world. If you feel that there is another category and cause that is important to you, then please use the following space for your answers. It is important to have categories and causes that are important to you listed because you will be asked to transfer your answers to the Personal Mission Profile.

Category _____________________________

Cause  ___________________________

Rate Your Interest In the above cause 1 – 10 (1 = Not at all, 10 = Very much so)    

Your Score ______

There is no limit to what God could do as you and the others in your church are Spirit led in using your Spiritual Gives toward the causes you believe in. What are some the ways that you can use your gifts? You can find out more about that in our workbook How Am I Wired For Ministry?  CLICK HERE for your FREE download of How Am I Wired for Ministry.

Want to know more about Spiritual Gifts? Download your FREE copy of our Spiritual Gifts Test and Workbook.  CLICK HERE for a Spiritual Gifts Test and workbook