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Caring ministry called every Christian’s job

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–Caring ministry, thought of by many as a pastoral role, is the job of every Christian, a Southern Baptist minister told his peers during Rec Lab at Glorieta (N.M.) Conference Center.
Larry Merideth, minister of activities and senior adults at First Baptist Church, Tulsa, Okla., said caring ministries should be done by individuals and through church program organizations, “using the gifts and talents God has given us.”
While Merideth said the Tulsa church has a range of caring ministries aimed at its members, “we need to care for the lost.”
“If we are not obedient to the Lord, then we are in rebellion. He said, ‘Go.’ It is important to care for others besides the body of Christ. There is a real responsibility to minister to those who are not of the faith. There is a real opportunity and an open door to minister to those who have no hope. We can offer hope, confident assurance, to them.”
He reminded participants that Luke 15 includes parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son.
“The bottom line is lost people matter to God, and they had better matter to us. It is easy to pat ourselves and say, ‘We care,’ when we are only caring for our own. The real test is how do we care for people outside the walls of the church.
“The purpose of the church is to make new Christians — to meet the needs of people who need the gospel,” he continued. “Evangelism is the heartbeat of the gospel. We need to involve our own people in understanding they have a responsibility to a lost world.”
Citing his own uncertainty in knowing how to minister to a church friend who was dying, Merideth said he had learned, “You don’t have to have the answers. You just need to be there. God understands, and the Holy Spirit will help us.”
Ministering to ministers has been one part of the caring ministry at First Baptist, Tulsa, he said. Partners in intercessory prayer have prayed every day for every ministry staff member, support staff and maintenance personnel at the church.
As a recipient of that ministry, Merideth said, “It would be hard for me to put into words what it has meant to me. In one difficult situation, my partner had the most influence in my getting through that.
“It helped the people who were doing the praying to understand the ministers, and it helped them as much as it did the ministers.”
Other caring ministries for church members and persons outside the church, Merideth suggested, include: grief support, caregiver support, substitute caregivers, visiting friends, food and clothing ministries, nursing home services, lunch partners, meals on wheels, transportation ministry, telephone contact reassurance ministry for persons who live alone, helping hands volunteers who do varied tasks, tape and literature ministry, benevolence ministry and senior adult day care.
“Our job is to minister to the people who are ours,” Merideth said, “and to those people who should be ours.”
Rec Lab was sponsored by the church recreation program of LifeWay Christian Resources.

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  • Charles Willis