the weblog of Alan Knox

When people are willing to talk…

Posted by on Mar 6, 2007 in blog links, community | 11 comments

Jamie at “(e)mergent Voyageurs” has copied a newspaper article by Harry Lehotsky in his blog post called “Tuesdays With Harry – The Ellice Cafe“. In the original article, Lehotsky describes how a church started a restaurant in a dowtown area in order to help the people of the community and to help revitalize the area. Consider this excerpt:

For 21 years, I’ve pastored this inner-city church. I started in stereotypical fashion, going door-to-door, asking people if they wanted to attend a new church. I knocked on the doors of all the homes, apartment blocks and rooming houses in the neighbourhood.

I was able to count on one hand the people who expressed an interest in checking out a new church. An ordained Baptist minister with a seminary degree, I wondered if perhaps this was the wrong place or wrong time for a church — or perhaps that I was just the wrong person for the job.I decided to go back through the neighbourhood and ask different questions. “What are you interested in? What are your concerns in the neighbourhood?”

Suddenly, people were willing to talk.

Are we in the church willing to meet people in their needs and talk about issues that they are concerned about? If we do not care enough about people and their concerns, why should they care to hear our good news?


11 Comments

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  1. 3-6-2007

    Good insights, Alan.

    I thank that, for far too long, we have rushed into “ministries” that are not even needed in the communities in which we live.

    The first step in any “first contact” encounter should be engaging people where they live and discovering their real and “felt” needs. then we build our ministries around that knowledge.

    We must ask and listen … then we can share teh eternal truth that we know.

    Geoff

  2. 3-6-2007

    Thanks for the shout out.

  3. 3-6-2007

    Geoff,

    Thank you for discussing the subject on your blog as well. People need the good news of Jesus Christ. But they may not recognize their spiritual need because of so many physical needs.

    Jamie,

    Thank you for telling us about Harry. Those of us south of the border can learn much from our northern neighbors.

    -Alan

  4. 3-6-2007

    Alan,

    As much as I hate the baggage talking about “felt” needs carries with it, it is entirely appropriate. If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warm and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body…

    Good complement to Geoff’s post.

  5. 3-6-2007

    Tony,

    The danger is in stopping at meeting physical needs. Every believer and unbeliever has physical (felt) needs. The church has always dealt with felt needs. But, the church errs if it stops at meeting those physical needs.

    -Alan

  6. 3-6-2007

    I read recently somewhere about a church that was growing cold and losing membership. They decided to do that very thing in their neighborhood- to go door to door and ask how they could serve the community. They didn’t make it about their church or themselves. They just sought to serve. It changed their ministry dramatically and they suddenly had doors open that had always been closed.

  7. 3-6-2007

    Alan,

    I did not imply that we should stop at meeting physical needs.

  8. 3-6-2007

    Bryan,

    Thanks for telling us about this church.

    Tony,

    I apologize if I suggested you thought we should stop at meeting physical needs. I certainly do not think you would suggest that. I was merely commenting on the “baggage” of felt needs, and the fact that it is not an either/or. We should meet felt needs AND offer the truth of the gospel.

    -Alan

  9. 3-7-2007

    I asked my friend and mentor who had been on the M field for 37 years in South America how he went about his work. He went into the jungle to find folks who had never even seen a white person before. He told me, ‘There is no secret, no formula. You just walk into the village and let the Holy Spirit tell you what these people need. Then you meet it. We saw people with teeth rotting in their heads so we pulled them out. They felt better so they listened when we told them about Jesus.’ I said to him that I didn’t know he was a dentist. He said he wasn’t.
    That advice has charted my course. Ask the HS what these people need and do that. Love is not so complicated after all.

  10. 3-7-2007

    Excellent point. And a good heads up for us, Alan. Jamie has a great blog over there. Thanks.

  11. 3-7-2007

    Strider,

    Thank you for giving us an M’s view. I always appreciate your comments.

    Ted,

    Yes, I agree about Jamie’s blog.

    -Alan