What do you think of ministries that go out into the world or in the community and provides a service for people and then shares the gospel with them? Is this biblical? (Like a short term mission trip that builds a church, medical clinic, provides medical care and then shares the gospel). Likewise, if you go to a city, country, etc. where the people are poor and sick, should you not meet the physical needs as well as the spiritual? I am confused on this issue?
It is never commanded in scripture that this is what we have to do to share the gospel, for the gospel comes with its own saving power and does not need a "jump start" -- in fact, we may be hindering the gospel by causing people to respond to our message, because we just gave them something (clinic, school, etc.) and they feel obligated to do something in return, which would be coming to Christ for all the wrong reasons, thus making false conversions, but they think they are saved. It is their very need that God may be using to draw them to the gospel.
In addition, we as a church or ministry have limited resources (time, money, persons) and the most pressing issue is their souls. It is easy to focus on their physical needs and let the needs of their souls go, for it is harder and more work to try to lead people to Christ than to meet their other needs. The key is that the first priority is their souls. You cannot take care of all the poor and sick of the world for there are more needs then we have the time or resources. I say focus on their spiritual needs first and then let them as Christians now help one another in their physical needs.
Our commission from the Lord was threefold (Matthew 28:18-19):
1. Make disciples - Lead them to Christ by preaching the Gospel.
2. Get them Baptized.
3. Teach them everything the Lord has commanded in His Word.
I often hear people quote the "if you did it for the least of the these..." as a reason to help all or any person. Are we called as Christians to help people in general or just brothers and sisters? For instance, George Muller who started orphanages and sharing then sharing the gospel with these children.
"To the least of these" [Matthew 25:40] is referring only to believers, but we also called to do good to all people [Galatians 6:10], especially God's true children--believers. Mueller was taking care of some street orphans, and naturally shared the gospel with them, which God used to save many--I think that was preaching the gospel in love. But this is different than going in and building a church, or clinic first. I am all for helping those who are down and out--the poor, but the mission of the church is to make disciples, and we have to be careful that we don't get distracted with our time and resources of building clinics, schools, etc., when we should be focusing on the Gospel.
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