What Breaks God’s Heart in Your Community?

One of the conversations I’m having more and more often – which is about missional ecclesiology, although most people don’t think of it that way – involves congregational mission service.

Some churches – in their annual reports – have long lists of mission projects they serve.  Often they give $200 here and $400 there, which is nice but not life-changing.  We give money to projects we have been been giving money to for many years, even though most parishioners are not personally connected or even aware of those projects except, perhaps, in name only.

Other churches have compassion fatigue and zone out when appeals to give to various mission concerns are shared.

When outreach is tired and people are wondering “how to improve their mission work” I have been asking:  “WHAT BREAKS GOD’S HEART IN YOUR COMMUNITY?”

The answers I’ve received range from curious looks (“What do you mean?”)  to heartbreaking specifics (“Do you mean like teenager suicide?”)  We might think that offering a tutoring program in our community is a fun idea, but maybe the need is not tutoring.  Maybe we’d love to open a cancer support program but the American Cancer Society already does that.

What is the need that’s not being met – or even noticed – in your neighborhood/village/suburb?  What’s breaking God’s heart where you live?  It’s worthy of a conversation.

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8 responses to “What Breaks God’s Heart in Your Community?

  1. I love how you get right to the heart of the matter. Pun intended.

  2. Martha Shrout Brown

    A wonderful way to frame things, Jan — I think communities of faith must be in constant discernment about the difference they can make in their contexts…and even change their minds, sometimes! 🙂

  3. One of the questions we are asking as we engage in mission redefinition

  4. Good post and ponderings; when you get a chance, check out toxic charity by bill lupton–a must read and huge shift in thinking about missions. http://georgiapreach.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/warning-toxic-charity-in-your-community/

  5. Great question! As far as finding an answer, I’m finding more and more there is simply no substitute for getting out and actually asking people. The response we seek may come in words, but we might also have to simply observe it with our senses. Where I see fellow Christians struggling most is with how to do this; whether conducting an interview, having purposeful conversations or making prayerful observations. Sometimes we believe we are listening, when we’re really just assuming.

  6. Julia Schaeffer

    The loneliness and homesickness of the new immigrant. The emptiness that young professionals feel. I think that breaks God’s heart in my community.

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