We We arWOur mission statement is:

To to follow Jesus,
 grow in wholeness,
and bring others to Him
 We are a member church of the Baptist Union of New Zealand.

 

 Eastside Baptist Church and its predecessor Glengarry Baptist Church has been in the low socio-economic suburb of Glengarry, Invercargill since the suburb was created of low cost and state housing in the early 1960s. 

Whilst the church of course has an evangelistic view, with a mission statement of “Follow Jesus, Grow in Wholeness and together bring others to Him”, the church recognises that spirituality alone is not the solution and is very involved in its community in all spheres of life.

The church has a particularly local outward focus and adopts the principles of Maori health known as Whare Tapa Wha, which identifies that spirituality is only one of 4 key elements which make up the well being of a person and therefore a community.

The suburb Glengarry has been identified by University of Canterbury researchers Crampton et al as a distinct area of the most deprivation in New Zealand (using their scale of 9 indicators and mapping the whole of New Zealand)  Glengarry is decile 10 in their scale where 10 has the most deprivation.[1]

The church runs community based activities on its site and could be referred to as the hub of the community.  Its motto is “to bring the community new heart”.

The church was the winner of the Invercargill Community Award in 2008 in the Educational and Child Youth Development category.

It won a Regional Commendation in the Health and Wellbeing category of the Invercargill Community Awards in 2011 for its community garden.


[1] Crampton, Salmond, Kirkpatrick, Scarborough & Skelly Degrees of Deprivation in New Zealand: an atlas of socioeconomic difference 2002 and subsequent revision in 2004

 Purpose of our Community Ministries a theological background

In order to focus our attention on community ministries, we need to identify just what we mean by the term. A helpful definition of community ministries (social ministries/social action) is from the theologian Ronald Sider: “that set of activities whose primary goal is improving the physical socio-economic … well being of people through relief, development and structural change.”[1]

History shows an uneasiness between evangelism and social action and often churches have had a ‘one sided Christianity’ (Sider 1993). The position we hold is that of Transformation Theology where “evangelism and social action are separate priorities but of equal importance.” (Duncan 2004).  John Stott tells us that “mission is our human response to the divine commission. It is the whole Christian lifestyle; including both evangelism and social responsibility… the gospel is the root, of which both evangelism and social responsibility are the fruit” (Stott 1984).

We acknowledge that there is a “biblical warrant for doing relief, development and structural change... Virtually every major biblical teaching under girds and demands social concern and helps shape its character” (Sider 1993). Our example is Jesus Christ:  If we are sent in the same way as Jesus, then our mission in the world includes both evangelism and social responsibility.”[2]

The Lausanne Covenant’s statement that “although…social action [is not] evangelism, we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty” is appropriate.

We undertake community ministries with the following purposes in mind:

Profile

God has built this church in Glengarry to reach out to the people.  There has been a church on this site since the creation of this suburb, and part of the function of community ministry is to build credibility. “There is no substitute for the long process of building a credible local identity” (Andrews 1995). As Brian Hathaway put it, that “credibility is primarily gained by lovingly and sacrificially serving other people”[3]

Relationships

We are not the church that just meets in Glengarry, we are not the church to Glengarry people, we are not the church for Glengarry people, we are the church living with the Glengarry people. “The church needs to be incarnated in the city, partnering with the community in addressing its needs” (van Engen 1994). We also need to be developing its strengths. Historically churches have taken the role of thinking they know best and acting like colonials or benevolent parents to the community but the role of the church is to facilitate self help, not to run helping projects for the community but run them with the community.

Share the love of Christ

We recognize that it is the grace of God that changes people, and social ministries by themselves will not do that. “If people are not changed spiritually then they are going to be in the same situation ten years down the road” (McRoberts 1999). But there is a clear warning against using community ministry as an underhand way of evangelism. “We do not become involved in such [community] ministries in order to win people to Christ. If that is our motivation, our caring is neither honest nor transparent. We are justifying our means by our end. Our motivation to service must be that of obedience to and discipleship of Jesus Christ.”[4]Our social concern dare not be a gimmick designed to bribe people to become Christians” [5]

Social Justice toward the disadvantaged

Jesus laid two commandments: love your God with all your heart and soul and mind, and to love your neighbour as yourself. Community ministry could be described as the churches answer to that second commandment. It could also be described as the churches answer to the Old Testament commands to care for the disadvantaged, the widows and the orphans. Jesus commenced his ministry with the words:  The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19).  The body of Christ is called to address humanity’s social ills, to proclaim the good news of the salvation in Jesus Christ, to grant forgiveness of sins and to make disciples of all peoples.” And we can read from the Gospel of Luke that “Jesus’ commission is the work of liberation – not just liberation from sin, but liberation from poverty, social domination, physical infirmities, political oppression and economic exploitation” (Linthicum 1997) including also from exclusion in community and loneliness.


Prayer:

We recognize that any work we do in this area is God’s work, and it is important to build a strong prayer base for God to empower us. “It was through prayer we developed a concern for the people in our city. And it was, through prayer we developed a commitment to the people. And it was through prayer that we developed contact with [the people]” (Andrews 1996). It is through prayer and the gifts of the spirit that we will discover God’s plan for Glengarry. You can be sure he has one and we need to discover our role/s to see God bring it to fruition.

 

Build relationships

Our relationships with people in the community are paramount for the success of our work in this area. “To earn the right to speak words of love, we must first willingly demonstrate deeds of love to the hurting people around us.”[7]  The gospel will be perceived as a feasible alternative when those who do not know God have some positive personal experiences with people who do know him” (Posterski). “To get a hearing for the gospel today there needs to be a personal investment of a Christian into the life of someone outside the body of Christ.” (Maudlin & Gilbreath 1994)

Resources/ people

By defining our intentions and our future plans, we hope to focus the attention of the congregation on the options available for Christian service, but it is also intended to be used to obtain resources from the local government, other agencies and churches to continue and expand this work. “To motivate its people for outreach and to be effective in outreach, a church must conceive and then communicate a viable model of the Christian our Lord has in mind, that his gospel, his spirit and his community make possible.” (Hunter 1996)

In conclusion, the Leadership of the church wants to make sure that the church is doing the best job it can in carrying out the commission of Jesus Christ, and wants to make sure that our resources are steered into the areas which have been prepared by the Holy Spirit.  The parable of the sower concerning where seed is cast, and Paul’s reminder that some plant, some water and God gets the increase is foundational for us to be good stewards of the church resources (human and otherwise) and to give glory to God.

[1] Ronald Sider Good News and Good Works: a theology for the whole Gospel 1999

[2]  Sider 1999

[3] Brian Hathaway Beyond Renewal: the kingdom of God 1990

[4] Mike Riddell Creed of Compassion  1995, 11

[5] Sider 1999, 179

[6] Doug Murren & Mike Meeks “How your church can evangelise” Leadership Summer 1995, 93

[7] Steve Sjogren “Servant Evangelism: opening closed hearts to God’s love” Reality Oct/Nov 1995

 

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