A Gospel Approach to Poverty Ministries

What Is Poverty?


North Americans have developed a passion for social justice issues, especially as it relates to the challenge of poverty. In many ways, we ought to encourage this excitement, but we must also acknowledge that our methods often do more to hurt the poor than help them. Dr. Brian Fikkert joins Mark Mellinger to offer some practical advice for creating a vision for poverty that endures in the church.

Mark Mellinger is the Indiana Public Affairs Director for Bott Radio Network and talk show host for 1090 Today, a radio program that showcases local ministries and encourages Christian living. Brian Fikkert is a Professor of Economics and Community Development and the founder and Executive Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College.


Have you observed successful ministry to the poor? What made the work effective? In contrast, have you witnessed harmful ministry to the poor? If so, what caused their work to yield negative results? How did it enable the condition of the people they were seeking to minister to?
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Brian noted the importance of asking the question, "What is poverty?" Our answer will determine the solutions we create for it. How do you define poverty? Has this discussion altered your views? If so, how?
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Brian also pointed out that God wired us all with an impulse to work for a living. Thus, a gospel-saturated approach to poverty ministry has this goal in mind. How did you feel about this part of this discussion? In what ways does this approach shift the aim of ministering to the poor from enabling to restorative? How might it create a context for developing personal skills they might not be able to identify themselves?
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What do you think it means to see the poor as image-bearers? How does it convict us of any superiority we feel towards those who impoverished? How does to it cause us to view them as an asset to be developed rather than a liability?
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A gospel approach to poverty ministry seeks to empower the poor by helping develop their God-given gifts and abilities. What changes could you make personally to view the poor as an asset? In what ways could you participate in their development? What resources or opportunities could you provide?
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How do you tend to view government programs for alleviating poverty? In light of this discussion, have your views changed? If so, how? What would it look like to utilize these programs to help bring about gospel restoration?
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Caring for the poor is an important gospel matter. Through our service to impoverished communities, Christians have a prime opportunity to proclaim the mercies of Christ in both word and deed. But we must think deeply about how we go about this process. As you seek to engage the poor in restorative ministry, contribute in ways that do not enable their current condition, but resource them to carry out their God-given gifts and talents for the glory of the Savior.


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