Mutual Transformation in God’s Family

Adapted from Mutual Transformation in God’s Family.

People are not projects. Please listen to these words and take them to heart. 

All human beings are made in the image of the living God. This means we are never merely projects defined by our economic statuses, our material possessions, or our vocations, graded on some scale of how well we are doing at life. Rather, we are equal in worth and in dignity, and this is true across race, nationality, age, culture, and gender, etc. In the same way, the church is full of beautiful, broken people gathering together to embrace Jesus’ love and to extend benevolence to all people. Doing benevolence well is an act of love in itself.

The relationship of a family expands beyond service, where love manifests itself in presence, care, empathy, accountability, listening, and community. Perhaps the largest barrier to effective benevolence ministry is that we often do not know how to care for those experiencing material poverty within our own church walls. How are you ministering to the needs of your own body? If you are doing this poorly, it’s not a great idea to export it!

The Importance of Mutual Transformation

When it comes to caring for those experiencing material poverty, whether inside or outside of our churches, mutual transformation is the goal. Therefore, we must cast a bigger vision, one that is more meaningful than an impersonal transaction and that is more loving than defining people by their economic status. The vision needs to shift the heart of the Church as a whole, as we invite and welcome people into the family of God. This shift needs to communicate that our mutual brokenness is only made whole in Christ, through prayer, repentance, and reconciliation.

In Matthew 5, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount introduces us to the Beatitudes, which give us a picture of mutual flourishing among believers, regardless of their economic status, regardless of their material possessions. But do we believe it? Are we ready to experience life together as mutually broken people? The acceptance of this knowledge leads to mutual transformation of all God’s children—it can help us check our pride and enter into genuine relationships, even between those our society teaches us can’t connect in real ways, even between those currently experiencing material poverty and those who aren’t.

Benevolence ministry is necessarily relational. It’s not about “haves” and “have-nots,” and certainly not  about elevating yourself. It’s about walking through every aspect of life together: suffering together, praying together, listening together, celebrating together, learning together. Creating a benevolence ministry that recognizes and embraces this vision is hard work, but it is the first step to a vibrant, growing church that causes the world to take notice of the work Jesus is doing to make all things new.

If your church or organization is interested in pursuing mutual transformation in the way you walk alongside those experiencing material poverty, we invite you to join us for our late summer cohort of Helping without Hurting in Benevolence Ministry. Through this six-week online class, you will receive the support you need to develop an effective, biblically-based benevolence program that leads to lasting transformation.

The Chalmers Center

The Chalmers Center

The Chalmers Center helps God’s people rethink poverty and respond with practical biblical principles so that all are restored to flourishing.

Leave a Comment