the shape of leadership

Five Ways to Serve ‘Orphans’ and ‘Widows’ Today

Meeting needs and showing Christ’s compassion in the community

Influence Magazine on June 6, 2019

How is your congregation responding to the needs of people in your community? Some argue that churches should focus solely on spiritual matters and leave the charity work to those who run charities. However, Scripture teaches that there is a close relationship between compassion and religion.

According to James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

When churches fail to reach out to those in distress, it’s usually because they just don’t know how. But the fact is, needs are everywhere. You don’t have to look far to find them. And you don’t need a large ministry team or a big budget to make a difference. Here are five ways to serve orphans and widows — and anyone who is in need.

1. Make Connections

Despite our society’s connectedness through technology, many Americans today feel lonely. This can be especially true for single parents and people who are going through difficult seasons.

Letting people know they’re not alone can go a long way toward bringing them into a relationship with Jesus and fellowship with the family of God. Encourage congregants to invite their neighbors and co-workers to church. Send handwritten notes to first-time visitors. Host community-wide picnics, block parties and outreaches.

Helping orphans and widows in the 21st century may be easier than ever.

2. Build Community Online

Online community often feels artificial and self-serving. But when you approach this opportunity thoughtfully, you can use technology to reach people you might not otherwise encounter.

Make sure your church’s website and social media accounts offer information about how to connect with your congregation. Also, provide a way for online visitors to express their needs, such as prayer requests.

3. Grow Partnerships

With so many charities meeting needs across the nation, helping orphans and widows in the 21st century may be easier than ever.

It’s tempting to create something new. But first consider how you can support those who are already doing great work. It may be a national organization or one in your own backyard. Either way, partnering with others may be the best way to make a difference.

4. Involve Everyone

Whether you’re distributing groceries through a food pantry, donating supplies to local schools, or sending a team to help with disaster relief, tell the congregation how they can be a part of demonstrating Christ’s compassion. Let them know that their participation matters.

5. Speak Out

It’s not just about how much you give or what you do. It’s also about raising awareness. Proverbs 31:8 says that God’s people should speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. That means uncovering injustices, defending the innocent, and encouraging one another with God’s promises. Today, we have more ways to speak out than ever. Why not use them?

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