As pastors, what is the most strategic thing we can do to alleviate poverty?
I’ve worked in pastoral leadership with a focus on missions for more than 20 years and I hope I, and those in leadership around me, never lose sight of this question. A simple desire to take care of the “least of these” is not enough. How can we be strategic about it?
There are many efforts behind which we can put our energy and resources, but I believe one action stands above all others: The most strategic thing we can do to alleviate poverty is strengthen the local church around the world.
Why is this most important? Because a strong local church in any community plays the pivotal role in protecting those who are vulnerable and ensuring families find a way out of poverty. Wherever your church is located, three mindsets will help you play a vital role in strengthening the local church the world over.
A mindset of irrational generosity
You wouldn’t be reading this if your church wasn’t already generous – that’s just what we do. But we must ask, “Am I leading my church to be irrationally generous?” I don’t know what that means for your church, but it’s a question we must come to grips with. Make no mistake: Rational generosity is good for us, but irrational generosity makes the global church stronger.
A mindset of listening and learning
Why not transform your missions trips into listening and learning opportunities? With rare exceptions, communities do not need our construction manpower, leadership training or baby-holding skills. What they do need is leaders who have a learning posture. Questions, rather than answers, unlock the secrets of how we can contribute to the local church around the world with our resources. If we listen to other local church leaders the world over, they’ll tell us how we can best come alongside them.
A mindset of anonymity
We can do far more together than we can do apart. But a massive barrier to effective partnership is our fear of anonymity. We must relinquish the individual values, philosophies and theology we’re known for in order to partner with other churches to impact communities, both our own and abroad. Partnership is far more difficult when we have too many non-negotiables. Let’s be willing to embrace anonymity.
As church leaders, our commitment to strengthening the global church will be the litmus test of our success in poverty alleviation.
Let us give our lives to helping the local church around the world thrive!
Learn more about how your church can partner to release children from poverty!