People often assume that feelings of love and concern must come before they act in a caring way.

“Our church has been growing quickly—maybe too quickly. We are reaching the community, seeing an increase in worshipers, and expanding our programs. But sometimes we don’t know what to do with people once they enter our building. How can we be a caring congregation?”

In the last few years, I have often heard such comments. In North America and overseas there are churches where the pastor is an effective preacher, the congregation has a successful evangelistic outreach, and the ministry appears to be booming—but church members find it difficult to meet the personal needs of a large number of people who are lonely, confused, spiritually hungry, and personally hurting. These members are concerned about caring.

In the Great Commission, Jesus gave a succinct mandate involving two responsibilities for the church: evangelism and education. Traditionally, we have assumed that evangelism is to be followed by Christian teaching that must include Bible knowledge, biblical principles for Christian living, and biblically based doctrines about God, authority, salvation, prayer, and similar issues. Sometimes however, the church has forgotten that Jesus also taught about marriage, parent-child interactions, poverty, race relations, and freedom for both men and women. He also taught about personal issues such as sex, fear, loneliness, and doubt. If we are to teach all that Christ taught, therefore, we must give more than instruction in doctrine—crucial as this is. We must also show people how to get along better with God, with others, and with themselves. We must teach them how to be caring as Jesus was caring.

The Bible gives no indication that ...

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