Reversing Trends … “You give the groceries away church!”

This morning I read Ed Stetzer’s recent post. How any pastor would not pop over to read what someone else thought to be the greatest sin in “our” church would puzzle me. Way to drive traffic to the site Ed! (He types knowing that to mention Ed Stetzer on the blog creates traffic of its own.)

Seems the grave indulgence we are most guilty of is a lack of obedience. Ed sure had it right. You want to hit the “amen” corner and get rave reviews say the “right” thing about a very public social issue. However, better have your hat in your hand the minute you suggest we should actually “do” the things Jesus did.

So when I also read a Todd Rhoades piece this afternoon, I could not help but thing the two posts belonged together. Go read them both and tell me if you see the correlation. To borrow an “Ed-ism,” the money quote from Rhoades,

Sounds like a great idea.  10,000 grocery bags filled and given to those in need.  But I was a little taken back when the article said that most of the parishioners said theyâ??d rather bring the bags back to the church rather than give the bag away themselves.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

3 comments on “Reversing Trends … “You give the groceries away church!”

  1. David Phillips says:

    I saw this earlier and was going to comment myself on it. But alas, it would be Wednesday before that would happen. Sigh…

    So here are my thoughts:
    1. These people didn’t know folks who could use a bag of groceries. (Not probable)
    2. They see ministry happening through the institution of the church, not the church distributed as the people of God living in and among the world.

    Is this the logical expression of attractional ministry?

  2. Grady Bauer says:

    Interesting article and more interesting comments. I have two thoughts on what Iâ??ve read.

    First…not knowing non-Christians. Part of this is often a result of the church. We build campuses and then fill them up with activites all throughout the week…either on campus or in the homes. This leaves little time to actually build relationships with the non-believers around us. Maybe Saddleback needs to look at what they can cancel during the week and how to enable and equip their people to spend time with those they interact with outside of the church. Just a thoughtâ?¦

    Second….I work among Muslims…where sharing the Gospel is done in small steps and often without alot of â??preachingâ?. I do not think that handing out groceries can be classified as evangelism…but it can be classified as laying the foundation for evangelism or even pre-discipleship. We often do acts of kindness in various ways to help undo peopleâ??s preconceptions about Christians. If they have negative ideas of who we are they are much less likely to listen to our Gospel. Thats why ideas like the 10000 bags is good…it helps to undo peoples views of who we (often) are and this can open up the doors for future sharing. Simply â??beingâ? isnâ??t evangelism…anymore than being â??healthyâ? makes sick people well.

  3. Grady,

    To your first – yes, I think all churches need to consider what they may alter in their schedule to help people connect with those “outside.” If we fear it hurts our “program” maybe we could see it as a new program if we must maintain the language game.

    To your second – we could quibble a bit but not get very far. I would only push back by saying we generally think of evangelism in terms of project and event rather than relationship and process. So, I would agree that in terms of our existing definitions giving out groceries is not evangelism and may be pre-evangelism. But, I prefer the second definition and see evangelism/discipleship as two sides of the same coin. In fact, I think we have an unhealthy disconnect between a life of following Jesus and the call to follow Jesus. The first is the call of Jesus, the second is often our revivalist interpretation. In the end the separation may get us a lot of numbers but few followers. We then create the very reality of “many are called but few are chosen.” The problem comes in that we should not create the occasion for the distinction since it is not in our purview. We should instead make both calls simultaneously and realize our work is never ended if we truly capture the idea of “make disciples.”

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