As the church grew in Acts, a problem arose. In chapter six, widows were neglected provisions for their daily needs. As a result, the first deacons were called by God and given the responsibility to serve the needs in the Church and a formal mercy ministry began.
Tim Keller's book, Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road, speaks of three principles for mercy ministry that are grounded in Scripture: the "Call to Mercy," the "Character of Mercy," and the "Motivation for Mercy." (PDF summary here) Redlands Community Church believes these also describe our guiding principles for mercy ministry.
Mercy ministry is not optional or an "add-on" to the Christian faith. As the Church, we are called to the ministry of mercy to meet human needs of those within and outside the body of Christ. It is a mark of the true Church as we pour out our lives in both word and deed to meet these needs.
The character of our mercy ministry is to meet needs through our deeds. The Church, as an agent of the Kingdom of God, Keller says, "seeks to bring substantial healing of the effects of sin in all areas of life, including psychological, social, economic, and physical."
Our motivation for mercy ministry at Redland's, simply put, is for the world around us and within to both experience and take hold of the grace of God through Christ that He freely offers in the gospel.
The Diaconate (deacon board) is a ministry of mercy at Redlands. The first Sunday of each month a special mercy offering is provided by the congregation. This "Mercy Fund” provides monetary assistance to people in our congregation as well as to help reach out to those locally who are in special need or a crisis situation. Our deacons desire to show people God's love and mercy as they come alongside them, help them through difficult circumstances, and work as ambassadors of God's grace in their lives. As God's mercy moves Him to acts of mercy, so His mercy moves His church to alleviate the suffering and hurts of His people.
How Does the Diaconate Help?
There are many ways in which our Diaconate helps. Listed below are just a few examples:
* financial assistance with bills (rent, utilities, medical, etc.)
* assistance with personal budgeting
* prayer, spiritual guidance and accountability— assess needs and work with people to find solutions
* gift cards for food
* networking with other support services and organizations
* support for ministries in our immediate area that provide practical assistance to people in need
If you are in need or know someone in need of assistance, contact the church office (305-258-1132).