I am a pastor and I am the founder of a non-profit organization to alleviate poverty. Both of these roles flow from my convictions as a follower of Christ, and for that reason I thought launching an organization to fight poverty while maintaining my pastoral role would be an easy fit. I was wrong. I share my story so other pastors with a desire to engage issues of justice and compassion can better understand the challenges they may face.
Nine years ago, my wife and I planted Quest Church in Seattle—an urban, multicultural, and multigenerational church seeking to be (wait for the buzzword) a missional community. Quest has grown to include about 450 people, 13 staff (two full-time), and a popular neighborhood caf with direct trade espresso, tea, art, and live music.
From the beginning we have articulated the importance of justice and compassion at Quest Church. Rather than presenting them as peripheral to the gospel, we have made these issues central to our theology and ecclesiology. I have focused the church's culture around four themes: the human soul, community, justice and compassion, and global presence. These themes are repeated in meetings large and small and from the pulpit. Because of that intentionality, people began to respond.
Inspired by my people
Rich and Teresa, two members at Quest, developed a passion for the persecuted Karen people of Burma (Myanmar). They partnered with a local non-profit, and Quest has subsequently helped plant a church in the Seattle area for refugees from Burma.
Sarah, a 25-year-old from Quest, began spending her Friday nights walking the streets befriending prostitutes.
Several families, including Tim and Louise, have hosted refugee families in their homes.
Erica, Jeff, and Carrie are ...