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This guest post is from K.J. Hill, our Community Development and Outreach Associate Pastor. To sign up for ServeRDU (July 30-Aug 1), click here.

As ServeRDU approaches and we begin publicizing projects, I find myself both excited and anxious. I’m excited because ServeRDU represents a tangible way we bless Raleigh-Durham, a way to demonstrate our love for our city by being out in the community en masse.  We are able to put thousands of volunteer hours to use, blessing friends and organizations that are laboring year-round to provide valuable services to our most vulnerable neighbors.

We get the privilege of doing things for them that they may not otherwise get done—like landscaping or painting or re-organizing closets or scrubbing floors. Or we provide supplies and gifts that they don’t have the resources for, or the flexibility to allocate their resources to—like book bags and school supplies and gift cards to thank their employees and volunteers.

What could the impact be if a church the size of the Summit really leveraged our people and resources through ServeRDU? Could you imagine if the 9,000 people that attend the Summit on the weekends all committed to serve this year during ServeRDU? Wouldn’t that communicate so much to our skeptical community?

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10 Plumb Lines for Local Outreach (Part 4)

Posted by guest on December 4, 2014
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This is the last of a four-part series on local outreach. We’re sharing the ten “plumb lines” that guide our local outreach philosophy, as explained by Matt Mig, our Pastor of Local Outreach. Be sure to also read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

9. The Best Way To Avoid Paternalism Is To Seek Friendship.

Paternalism happens when someone who has authority or resources restricts the responsibility or choice of another person in the perceived “best interests” of that second individual.  It is the result of defining our neighbors by their situation or need instead of by God’s design for them.  These unhealthy relationships can occur when we enter into potentially positive relationships like mentoring or coaching without valuing the other person, and even a well-meaning church can accidentally fall into this trap when working with people in material need.

In the book Toxic Charity, Bob Lupton describes the shame and embarrassment an unemployed father feels when materially rich church members provide gifts to his children that he can’t afford and the dependency that misguided aid can create in entire communities.  Paternalistic attitudes often result in services that temporarily alleviate material need, but do nothing to help someone discover who God created them to be.

We’re all susceptible to this trap:  it is the “default setting” for prideful people who happen to have more of something than the person next to them.  We must actively try to befriend our incarcerated or homeless neighbors. It won’t just happen on its own. Building relationships of real equality between people of unequal power isn’t easy, but there are a few habits we can develop that can help us to avoid the trap:

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10 Plumb Lines for Local Outreach (Part 3)

Posted by guest on December 3, 2014
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This is part 3 of a four-part series on local outreach. We’re sharing the ten “plumb lines” that guide our local outreach philosophy, as explained by Matt Mig, our Pastor of Local Outreach. Be sure to also read Part 1Part 2, and Part 4.

6. Discipleship (and Development) Happens In Relationship.

Yesterday we shared that the value of a local outreach program is directly related to the quality of relationships that result from it.  In part that’s because we recognize that people grow as disciples in community with other followers of God.  It’s also because social and economic development most effectively happens in the context of a relationship as well.  Experts often talk about development as the process of leading an individual down a path that starts with a need for emergency assistance and ends with stability.  The path looks something like this:

Emergency Relief » Rehabilitation » Development » Self-Sufficiency

You could think of a similar path of discipleship for someone who’s currently far from God:

Spiritual Apathy » Seeking God » Growing Disciple » Disciple-Making

This illustration is not perfect, but the two paths lead a person to become who God created them to be—a fruitful disciple, both materially and spiritually.  The point of a local outreach ministry is to walk with a person down both paths at the same time. Historically, the church has done one or the other, leading us to either powerless social justice or ineffective evangelism. But a gospel-centered local outreach ministry does both, leading down the first path by the demonstration of the gospel and down the second path through the proclamation of it. And walking down either path with someone requires a relationship.

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