InterReligion Social Work Ministry - Right for the Church?

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WarrenInSC

Puritan Board Freshman
My question is, is it a proper ministry for a church, as a church, to be publicly joined with congregations of other religions (apostate mainline, Unitarian Universalist, Reform Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, JV, etc.) in 'faith based' social work ministries? Take your pick of the cause: hunger, homelessness, literacy, whatever.

There seems to be a growing trend among 'evangelical' churches to make such partnerships, including PCA churches, in order to show how concerned they are with social ills, and that doing so is a necessary part of their gospel witness.

The common scenario is:
- Community wide publicity of the different religious congregations working together for a common social good
- A specific prohibition against integrating evangelism (what the 'social ministry' network would call prostylization) by any particular congregation taking part in the work. The rationale, of course, is how can you have inter-religion/inter-faith group members work together and evangelize for their own religion at the same time. The rationale is also that by integrating evangelism, it might scare away some of the prospective beneficiaries of the social work ministry - they might have their own religion after all.
- Just as important a component as the above, is the promotion of the program by church leadership as a core way the congregation expresses the love of Christ for the unloved and forgotten - with the hope that the ministry recipient may bring up a question of faith allowing the evangelical church member to respond with a testimony - and thus not violate the prohibition against integrating evangelism

What do you think?
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think it's misleading to call that sort of thing "faith-based": is not the content of your faith being suppressed according to the terms of participation?

I think if Christians want to help people learn to read, etc., that's fine; but if it is done as a ministry of the church, you can't consent to let Christ's bride be gagged about her bridegroom.
 

calgal

Puritan Board Graduate
1. Is this a long term commitment or a crisis response? Think of Hurricane Katrina where there were non Christian groups coming down to give practical aid ($cientologi$t$ did their readings and were less welcome than rats and snakes).
2. Are there Christian ministries that can do the same thing as well or better? and what suggestions do you have for the session to replicate this in a more orthodox group?
3. Faith based is an annoying cliche but it does cover a group like this. If there is nothing like Love INC (a parachurch ministry) in your area, this would allow you and your fellow church members to serve the less fortunate in a larger way. It is hard to hear the gospel when your basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) are not being met.

:2cents:
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
I do not think that it is ever right for Churches to join with false Religions in any effort or programme, it is just plain wrong.

I do not however think that it is wrong for an individual Christain to work with non Christians in doing good, just keep the Church out of it.
 

WarrenInSC

Puritan Board Freshman
Gail: Yes, the particular network I happen to be dealing with (or not in my case) is a long term community network, not a crisis response like Katrina
Mike: Yes, you have the same conclusion I do. As a church, a worshipping/spiritual entity, it's hard to see how to partner with other congregations practicing other religions, serving other gods. For individuals and families, whose 'mandate' is broader in a cultural sense than the church as an institution (raising families, starting businesses, etc.), it would seem to be a different issue.
My question is - if we do not hold joint worship services with the congregations of other religions serving other gods, how could the church, as the church, conduct any joint public ministry united with them?
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
I think that the term ministry is "overused" when applied to naything but the Church, we should do "stuff" without considering it a special ministry. If it is a "ministry" (i.e. the Church is doing it) then by definition we cannot make common cause with the world.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
During the big Tsunami, many groups got together and helped in disaster relief. Would you help save lives rather than refuse to work next to a Seventh Day Adventist in a crisis situation?
 

TheocraticMonarchist

Puritan Board Junior
My question is, is it a proper ministry for a church, as a church, to be publicly joined with congregations of other religions (apostate mainline, Unitarian Universalist, Reform Judaism, Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, JV, etc.) in 'faith based' social work ministries? Take your pick of the cause: hunger, homelessness, literacy, whatever.

You mean like Isreal was joined with the pagan nations?

This is religious pluralism in action. It dishonors Christ and should be avoided at all costs.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If a natural disaster hits, you all would rather wave your own flag and use the occasion as a chance to protest heretics rather than help dying people?

There are good reasons to cooperate at least in cases of crisis. Long-term humanitarian aid can also be done in parrallel with other agencies without compromise.

The world is a needy place and the church could do a lot more, even while being the church and being uncompromising on its doctrine.
 

TheocraticMonarchist

Puritan Board Junior
If a natural disaster hits, you all would rather wave your own flag and use the occasion as a chance to protest heretics rather than help dying people?

There are good reasons to cooperate at least in cases of crisis. Long-term humanitarian aid can also be done in parrallel with other agencies without compromise.

The world is a needy place and the church could do a lot more, even while being the church and being uncompromising on its doctrine.

God doesn't share His glory with carved images. Should the church?

If Christ sidelines His Church in a natural disaster perhaps it's for a good reason. Let us not team up with the church of Satan.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Ok, next time a disaster hits your town, don't expect me to come helping you Assemblies of God folks.
 

TheocraticMonarchist

Puritan Board Junior
Ok, next time a disaster hits your town, don't expect me to come helping you Assemblies of God folks.


I hope you will reconsider :( . Let me clarify my position:

is it a proper ministry for a church, as a church, to be publicly joined with congregations of other religions


Should the church of Christ help the church of Satan do good deeds? No, it is better for an entire continent to perish than for Christ to be dishonored in this way. This doesn't negate the fact that we are to love our neighbor.Thankfully the American church has more than enough money to share the gospel and help the afflicted, and we should. However, if God were to ever sideline His church during the event of a natural disaster, like I said before, perhaps it is for a good reason.

Religious pluralism is most definitely one of Satan’s ways to pervert the true worship of God and obscure His gospel. Many early Christians paid the ultimate price for refusing his devices. I hope we too will take a page from their book and refuse the god of this world.
 

calgal

Puritan Board Graduate
Ok, next time a disaster hits your town, don't expect me to come helping you Assemblies of God folks.


I hope you will reconsider :( . Let me clarify my position:

is it a proper ministry for a church, as a church, to be publicly joined with congregations of other religions


Should the church of Christ help the church of Satan do good deeds? No, it is better for an entire continent to perish than for Christ to be dishonored in this way. This doesn't negate the fact that we are to love our neighbor.Thankfully the American church has more than enough money to share the gospel and help the afflicted, and we should. However, if God were to ever sideline His church during the event of a natural disaster, like I said before, perhaps it is for a good reason.

Religious pluralism is most definitely one of Satan’s ways to pervert the true worship of God and obscure His gospel. Many early Christians paid the ultimate price for refusing his devices. I hope we too will take a page from their book and refuse the god of this world.

Wow. Here is a little application to explain where Pergy is coming from: If I follow your logic then next time there is a fire, tornado or flood around these parts, I would ask the neighbors their religious affiliation before I help them get granny out of the basement. If they are not truely Reformed (Can't recite any of the 3FU or WC) then I will walk on by. And make sure they know I am doing that in the name of Jesus. And make sure they know I ain't helping the heathen.

Now is that God Honoring behavior? Does that sound like something Jesus did? :eek: it sounds more like the stories my mother told us as kids (mom was and remains an atheist).
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Has God ever sidelined HIS Church during natural disasters?

God doesn't share His glory with carved images. Should the church?

It should be Christ who gets the Glory not the Church..through the work of His Church, if His church is sitting on sidelines doing nothing..while others are..does Christ get ANY Glory or is He being criticized?? because His Church is doing nothing..except sitting by watching others do what God has called THEM to do..

Others do it for their own glory or even trying to 'work' their way into heaven..but God's Church should do it out of Love for God and His creation even IF that creation happens to be evil people..

Should I as part of a group representing God's church not help the homeless, merely because others who are not part of God's church are??

Should I as part of a group representing God's church not help the hungry, merely because others who are not part of God's church are??

Say I was a dentist, and a Member of a PCA/OPC/ or Reformed Baptist church, should I not volunteer my time w/ a NON-Christian organization who is wanting to provide free dental care to the homeless or less fortunate, merely because the organization is not a Christian group and does not represent Christ?? Should I sit back while others do the work God has called me as a Christian to do??
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
No one is saying that Christians should not work with unbelievers, just that the Church should not work on a common platform with them. Is this not clear from the posts?
 

WarrenInSC

Puritan Board Freshman
Drifting from the issue

A couple of the latest posts seem to be drifting from the question poised and the issue at hand. It's not a question of who is the beneficiary of the 'help' or 'ministry'. It's a matter of whether publically joining, as a congregation, with other congregations serving other religions worshipping other gods for common inter-religion social purpose is a legitimate 'ministry' for a church, as a church - while being specifically forbidden from integrating gospel witness as noted at the start of the thread.

In the case I've had to deal with, an alternative structure was suggested and rejected - namely forming the same kind of network, but only with believing churches, and making a gospel withness an essential component. That could have been done, but there was, seemingly, just no desire to.

For perspective, I try to think what it would have been like (and what he would have said) for the apostle Paul in Ephesus if some members of the church he started there brought to him the idea of joining forces with social work ministry of the temple of Artemis to help the hungry of Ephesus, and to put their religious 'differences' aside in order to do the work - then to have that joint ministry set up as the main 'outreach' of the church Paul founded to the Ephesus community. Somehow, I think I can see Paul pinning back that person's ears.
 

Wanderer

Puritan Board Freshman
No one is saying that Christians should not work with unbelievers, just that the Church should not work on a common platform with them. Is this not clear from the posts?

I have a HUGE problem in getting involved with a lot of "Christian" organizations in that I find that within many "Christian" organizations that are faith based that what we really have going on is ecunemicalism being promoted. Which is opening up the door for all those who we would considered belonging to apostate churches now coming into our ranks and being recognized as one of us.

But at the same time, I do feel called and duty bound to relieve the suffering where I can for my Christian brethren and for the lost, in that order.

So, I say this, if a tornado should rip through my neighborhood, and I can swing a hammer to repair, I come to my neighbors house to swing a hammer and relieve his suffering. I do not come as part of a faith based organization, but if they happen to be their, or they tell me about a need then so be it. This is my helping the afflicted. And if I am laboring to help the afflicted, and a so called faith base organization or any other organization comes to lend a hand, then so be it. And if an organization should inform me of such a need, and I feel called to assist, then so be it. I'm releaving suffering. My focus is on the afflicted, and doing that what I am called to do.

But at the same time, I will not join one of these organization, or make any agreement with them. I do not believe this is my calling.

Also, I think it is a great thing for people within a church that here about a disaster and decide to put out the word that we are heading out to that disaster zone to relieve the afflicted. But one thing that has concerned me, and that is our we giving preference to our brethren in this ministry or as many churches I believe are just using it to Evangelize the lost.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
No one is saying that Christians should not work with unbelievers, just that the Church should not work on a common platform with them. Is this not clear from the posts?

No, this is not clear from the posts.

There are many ways in which churches can work in parrellel with unbelievers, the gov't and other denominations in the event of natural disasters. Such parrallel work for the limited goal of helping a humanitarian crisis in no way makes a church agree with all the beliefs of others. And also, we are to help all, no matter their religious affiliation.


This DOES NOT mean that we need to pray prayers with these groups or fellowship with them in a more intimate way, but unloading porridge for starving kids is one activity that I am glad that universalists and Methodists can do well and can even do in the same area as me.

What is the difference in working "with" unbeleivers and "partnering on a common platform" with unbelievers? How you define any partnerships will determine if you can or not work with unbeleivers.


An example from small town America: A local crisis pregnancy opens in your home town. It is staffed by mostly Catholics and a local Catholic parish helps donate many funds to it. The Crisis Pregnancy Center is not Catholic, but to help this worthy endeavor you would have to work right next to Catholics in order to do a civil good. I see nothing wrong with working beside Catholic on "Life Issues" even though I would reject the Catholics and Evangelicals Together document, or whatever it was called, a few years back.
 

TheocraticMonarchist

Puritan Board Junior
No one is saying that Christians should not work with unbelievers, just that the Church should not work on a common platform with them. Is this not clear from the posts?

No, this is not clear from the posts.

There are many ways in which churches can work in parrellel with unbelievers, the gov't and other denominations in the event of natural disasters. Such parrallel work for the limited goal of helping a humanitarian crisis in no way makes a church agree with all the beliefs of others. And also, we are to help all, no matter their religious affiliation.


This DOES NOT mean that we need to pray prayers with these groups or fellowship with them in a more intimate way, but unloading porridge for starving kids is one activity that I am glad that universalists and Methodists can do well and can even do in the same area as me.

What is the difference in working "with" unbeleivers and "partnering on a common platform" with unbelievers? How you define any partnerships will determine if you can or not work with unbeleivers.


An example from small town America: A local crisis pregnancy opens in your home town. It is staffed by mostly Catholics and a local Catholic parish helps donate many funds to it. The Crisis Pregnancy Center is not Catholic, but to help this worthy endeavor you would have to work right next to Catholics in order to do a civil good. I see nothing wrong with working beside Catholic on "Life Issues" even though I would reject the Catholics and Evangelicals Together document, or whatever it was called, a few years back.

Perg,

Some things to think about...

Why do Universalists serve porridge? Is it to win converts? Secure people for hell? Spread a false gospel? Perhaps they just want to feel less damned by their own conscience.

Satan appears as an angel of light. Should the Church provide porridge for his pot?

If in the event of a natural disaster, Satan would agree to not preach his false gospel, should the church then agree not to preach the true gospel? Of course this would be for a ‘good’ cause… helping the needy...

Do you see the compromise it takes to work with false religions?

The Church should promote Christ alone. Any humanitarian work should fall within this parameter. I think with this in mind we can determine who we can and can not work with.
 
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