Over the past five months the Overseers (translate: “Elders” or “Pastors”) at Whittier Hills Baptist Church have been thinking and praying about ministries of compassion and justice and the relationship of such activities to gospel proclamation. We have recently completed a position paper in which we collectively lay out what we believe the Bible teaches on this topic. We also address a few practical issues in the paper. We will be using this document in the future to help guide ministry decisions as we interact with those who are poor, oppressed, and marginalized. I’m linking you to our paper with the permission and encouragement of our leadership team. We hope that this paper will be a help to other churches, ministries, and individuals to think carefully and biblically through this important--and sometime controversial--topic. You are free to use this paper (or sections of it) in any way you consider appropriate in your respective areas of ministry.
Please note that most of the first four or so pages are simply Scripture references. The paper as a whole is organized as follows:
- What is the biblical basis for justice and mercy?
- What is the mission of the church?
- Is there any priority of verbally proclaiming the gospel message over being involved in deeds of justice and mercy?
- How much of a difference can we expect to make? What is the extent of the breaking in of the kingdom of God in the present?
- Are there levels of responsibility? Do we have greater responsibility for some than for others?
- Is there some sort of prioritizing of compassion over addressing systemic injustices?
- Does advocacy on behalf of the downtrodden and oppressed take precedence over supporting policies that protect our freedoms?
- Should the church directly take on ministries of justice and mercy?
- Should churches or individual believers respond to every instance where there is a clear example of suffering or injustice?
Summary of Ministry Vision and Values at Whittier Hills Baptist Church: