If you could follow these thoughts in everything that you do, all would be well. I started another page with the above Bible verses but I thought they needed to be repeated. This page is a list of suggestions how churches can show compassion to individuals in their community or individuals in their congregations.
At some United Methodists churches, there are signs posted at the exits of their parking lots that read "You are now entering the Mission Field". A large amount of people who look upon these signs see in their minds missionaries that go around the world using words either spoken or written to witness to people and express their religious beliefs but I like to say that you can be a missionary to people in your own town through your actions. In the Jewish religion, there is a thought or commandment that says that each one of us should do something to Tekun Olahm (Heal the World). It is commanded that we must do something to help correct and solve the problems of the world.
There is an old saying that says that "Actions speak louder than words". Another old saying goes that "You have to Walk the Walk and not just Talk the Talk." Also, another saying goes "G-d Words without G-d Actions don't mean squat."
That is quite true for actions reflect what a person truly believes in. Words can be spoken without not much thought behind them but most often it takes quite a bit of thought to come up with the best kind of action.
I have to look back on several comments recorded for history which Ben Franklin said when he walked upon this world.
"I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did." (from a letter written to his father in 1738).
"That I want not to destroy any religion in any man but I wish it to be more of charity, kindness, and
mercy not just the attending of long services, the saying of long prayers, and the hearing of long sermons. If this was all that there is to a man's religion, it would be like a tree being proud to be pruned and watered but not producing any fruit." (from the Works of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 7, Page 75)
The last saying seems to end quite harshly but the sentiments behind it are quite true. Most people who attend church services seem to be just bumps on a log. They tend to be "Sunday-morning Christians" and are not willing to go any farther in showing their faith. A lot of "so-called Christians" go to church to be entertained. They want to get a fill-up of "feel goodliness" and this is supposed to last them the whole week until they attend the next service.
Some of you might feel that I mean to say that you should just get involved with a service organization either religious or secular that help people but I mean to say that we should get involve with the people around us. We live in a society where people don't even know the people who either live in the next apartment or floor of the building you live in or the next house or street in the neighborhood where you live at. We sit down next to people in the pews or rows of the religious organizations that we attend not knowing anything about that person or what their needs might be. We want to strive for a personal relationship with our Creator but balk at having a personal relationship with the people around us.
Here is a list of ways that churches can show compassion. Hopefully, this list might give a spark in somebody's mind at a church that doesn't really show compassion.
Three - Handshake Rule : Make sure that all new-comers to the church whether they be guest of church members or visitors get handshakes from three different members of the church before the service starts. I have this rule in my mind when I go to a new church. If I'm not given those three handshakes before the first song is sung or the welcome is expressed, I tend to feel not really welcome. There are some churches that have a corporate "Greeting Time" during the service when people go around shaking hands but this doesn't work out all of the time. I've been ignored most often. When I do get a handshake it might be a quick one without any feeling behind it. There are sometimes when somebody shakes my hand while they talk to somebody either to the side or me or behind me.
Greeting gifts : Some churches have the ushers hand out information packets to visitors or at the end of the service the visitors might be given a logoed coffee mug or pen. What I found is much nicer is a gift made by a church member. I remember some churches who hand out small mini-loaves of bread or banana bread. These can be frozen. Usually, several dozen loaves can last a church a month.
The making of quilts : When I visited a Methodist church in Harlem, TX, I was happy to hear that the ladies of the church had made lap quilts for the shut-ins of the church and the people in the local nursing home. The talk of the quilts was on the Sunday before Easter. There wasn't going to be a regular Easter morning service at the church. Instead, the quilts were going to be placed on the prayer rails and draped over the pews and they were going to be dedicated to the L-RD before they were given out.
Item Collecting : This could be a lot of things collected. It might be food collected for a food bank that the church runs or is a part of, collecting stuffed animals, or the collection of clothes.
With the collecting of food, baskets are placed around the church and items needed are listed in the church bulletin. There is one church that I came across that has a once a month "Wagon Sunday". On that Sunday, most of the congregation members bring in food items and they are placed in a string of little red wagons. After the offering is taken, these wagons are pulled down the aisle to the altar as the ushers bring up the collection plates and the wagons and the food is blessed.
With the collecting of stuffed animals I came across one church that spent several months collecting stuffed bears of all sizes. Right before Christmas the bears were brought in the church and placed in the pews before the service. The congregation was instructed to pick up one or more of the bears and hold them throughout the service so that they can be "stuffed with love". The bears were later sent out to local hospitals to be given out to admitted children or children coming into the emergency room. Others were distributed to the ambulance service, local foster care programs, police stations, and sheriff departments.
Bears are also filled with love and prayers at the First Presbyterian Church in Chittenango, New York. People bring in teddy bears of all sizes and kinds, they are "tagged" with a card that says this is a prayer bear from the church and it's been in our sanctuary "absorbing" prayers from the congregation for you. The congregation is invited to take them to friends who are sick, etc as an expression of the churches concern and prayers.
Right before Christmas, I came across several "sock and glove" trees. New pairs of socks and gloves were collected and hung on Christmas trees instead of ornaments. These would then be distributed to the needy children in the area. Also, winter hats and scarves were collected.
At a Methodist Church in Alabama I came across several years ago around Thanksgiving, the church had racks of winter coats that they had collected. These coats were cleaned by congregation members or by a local laundry service. The coats were given out to anybody that needed one who attended the church's Thanksgiving dinner.
I guess one of the neatest ways that I have seen a church show compassion was when they took up a "Noisy Offering". Coffee cans were passed around the congregation and loose change was collected. This was a big thing for the kids since the change going into the cans made a lot of noise. The money that was collected is later distributed to a designated local charity or ministry. The offering could also be taken up to help a local family in need with unexpected expenses that could occur say like after their house burnt down. The idea behind the "noisy offering" was the Biblical story of the "Widow's Mites".
One of the best ways for a church to show compassion (especially to families in need) is to get involved with a local Interfaith Hospitality Network. This is a collection of churches that house families on a week-to-week basis. Churches usually transform unused Sunday school classes into bedrooms and bathrooms have showers installed. A good example of the Network is the one in Gaston County, North Carolina. There are 12 host churches. Typically, three or four families, or a total of 14 people, are served during a one-week stay at a host church. Along with a place to stay and meals, the program also provides budgeting services, parenting skills' classes, and helping individuals with continuing education. The national program is called
. It has been in existence for almost 18 years.
This is just a short list of how a church can show compassion. More examples can be found on the "Church Hall of Fame" page.