This discussion is intended to clarify the concept of the holistic nature of the gospel, intersecting our walk with the Lord, our Lifetime Laborer, and the social area of life.
It can be tempting to look at ministry to the poor as something as reserved for time left over after our other ministry responsibilities are completed.
Of course it seems like a good thing to do... and of course we'd all encourage our disciples to reach out to the poor. But an essential part of the gospel? Probably not. Or even if it is essential, just how does it fit in with the part of the gospel that we generally encourage our disciples to share ... with the KGP part? How does this ministry to the social needs of people relate to the traditional aspects of a ministry of Lifetime Laborer as we have practiced them within Cru?
The inner city ministry of Cru has been focusing attention on holistic ministry to the poor since 1981. Dan Pryor, a former Cru staff member, developed a fantastic model which can be used to articulate the intersection of the various areas of life and how the gospel interacts with each area. There will be a number of biblical texts used for this discussion. You may want to write down each reference ahead of time and then be prepared to draw out the Venn diagram as you talk with your disciple.
Draw a large circle on the top of the paper and label it "Personal Experience of the Gospel." Ask your disciple what they think would be included in their walk with the Lord. Some answers might include prayer, time in the word, church attendance, etc. Anything having to do with one's personal walk with the Lord would fall into this category. Read Luke 10:27a (stop at the semi-colon). Talk about what it looks like in the life of a believer to love God with your heart, soul, strength, and mind (talk about holistic!)
Next draw a second, overlapping circle down and to the left from the first circle. Inside this second circle write "Lifetime Laborer."
What are things that would be included in the area of becoming a Lifetime Laborer? Read 2 Timothy 2:2 and Matthew 24:14. How important is multiplication to the growth of the kingdom? Let your disciple respond to this question. For our purposes here, being a Lifetime Laborer includes everything related to evangelism and discipleship.
Finally, draw a third circle that will intersect the first two circles labeling it "Social Concern." Read Luke 10:27b. What would be included in "loving your neighbor as yourself"? This could be a long discussion! In the context of city ministry, many times this is thought of in terms of employment or other sorts of practical issues, i.e. where is someone going to eat, what are they to eat, etc. On campus, social concerns might involve an eating disorder,alcohol abuse, or a sexual relationship. We engage in conversations about students' social concerns all the time, we just don't usually think of it in these terms.
Now you'll move on to talking about what happens when these elements overlap in a believers life and what it looks like if you happen to be missing one of these key elements.
If a person is both personally experiencing the Gospel and is engaged as a lifetime laborer, what would be the result? Look at John 15:1-8. and discuss the life that would come as a result of a believer being connected to the vine and trusting the Lord to bring about fruit. Now what would happen if that believer wasn't connected to the Lord but tried to create spiritual multiplication in their flesh? Or conversely, what if they were walking closely with the Lord but failed to ever take the step of faith to share the Gospel with someone? Draw a line to the intersection of “Personal Experience of the Gospel” and “Lifetime Laborer” and write "Intersection #1, Life, John 15:1-8" and below that write "Disconnect #1, No Remaining Fruit." Next, move to the bottom of your drawing and look at the intersection of “Lifetime Laborer” and “Social Concern.” What happens when a believer is both engaged as a lifetime laborer and is aware of the social concerns of those around them? Examine Isaiah 58:5-9 together. What if we fail to take into account the social needs of those around us? Draw a line to the intersection of “Lifetime Laborer” and “Social Concern” and write "Intersection #2, Light, Isaiah 58:5-9 and below that write "Disconnect #2, No Relevancy."
Finally, move to focusing on the intersection of “Social Concern” and “Personal Experience of the Gospel.” What does it look for a Spirit-filled believer to be made aware of the true social concerns of the unbelievers around him/her? Wouldn't they have to be moved with love / compassion? Wouldn't they have to act? Read Jeremiah 9:23-26 together and talk about what it would mean to understand and reflect God's character in this area. What if someone went about trying to meet another's social needs, but weren't connected to the Father themselves? Or conversely what if the believer didn't take into account someone's social concerns? How authentic would the believers relationship with the Lord seem to the unbelieving world seem if they didn't take into account the needs of those around them? Now draw a line to the intersection of “Social Concern” and “Spirit / Walk with the Lord” and write "Intersection #3, Love, Jeremiah 9:23-26" and below that write "Disconnect #3, No Authenticity."
Focus on the center of the diagram as we wrap up our discussion. Write "Extending the Reign and Rule of Christ (the Kingdom of God), Mark 1:15" where all three circles intersect. Discuss what it means that the Kingdom of God is present now, and not totally fulfilled. Look at Mark 1:15 together. What does it look like for us to be a part of building the kingdom with Christ?
It might be helpful to listen to a presentation on this topic given by Brad Harry of the Cru Chicago team given at CSU in 2009.
There are so many great resources available on this topic. You can suggest several articles to read. Christian Charity by Jonathan Edwards. There’s a great article by Rick James called Good Words, Good Deeds.
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