There are so many discussions/arguments amongst folk at present on ‘gospel ministry’, ‘mercy ministry’, ‘good works’ etc. etc. etc. To call it a battle ground would be to give these discussions too much credit but they are having an impact on the work of the Church and its people, particularly in respect to its evangelistic endeavours. Much of the debate seems to centre on De Young and Gilberts book, What is the Mission of the Church? which has drawn a position that ‘mercy ministry’ is something we may do rather than what we must do – it is not an equal partner with evangelism and disciple making.
Whilst I understand this viewpoint, I see things in a slightly different way. My hand gets cold in winter and so I wear a glove……if I didn’t, I may get frostbite and then my hand would not function well, the glove enables me to maintain health and to function well. The glove on its own is very nice but remains a glove. So it is with ‘mercy ministry’ – anyone can do it, you don’t need to be a Christian, but when the church engages with it – everything begins to function as it ought and people then begin to see Christ and the Church as it was intended. My conservative evangelical friends will say that I am being oversimplistic but my reading of the Scriptures forces me to share the gospel in word and deed, in every situation and as Luther said;
“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbour”.