12 Options to Serve the Poor and Vulnerable in the New Year

girl holding wire fence

In his book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, Timothy Keller encourages Christians to combine evangelism with life-changing advocacy, seeking faith-centered solutions for those God specifically commands believers to serve—the orphan, the widow, the poor, and the alien.

While planning your 2019 ministries, consider God’s passion for the poor and vulnerable. How can you provide Matthew 25:40’s “least of these” with long-term solutions, helping them both accept and grow in Christ and escape destructive patterns? Pray through the following ministry and missions possibilities. Ask God to send you to those who need you most.


Minister to the sick. Ask a hospital chaplain, social worker, or home health representative how you can support the chronically ill. Consider providing Bibles, prayer teams, token gifts, or at-home visits or advocating for those who can’t navigate the health-care system.



Show love to area widows and single moms with a Valentine’s-themed outreach. Survey their needs: car maintenance, housing repairs, snow shoveling/yard work? Enlist qualified workers to fulfill heart-adorned coupons, cashable on a predetermined Saturday.



Find a way to support the efforts of law enforcement professionals who deal with the poor and vulnerable daily. Contact their leadership or chaplaincy personnel to ask how you or your group can work with these public servants, opening doors to new ministry possibilities.



Remember Easter is April 21. Will abused women and children in local shelters celebrate? Plan to deliver baskets of toiletries, clothing gift cards, journals, toys, or other gifts to human resource workers or shelter directors this month. Find a way to incorporate the gospel message.



Organize a Memorial Day outreach to veterans and active military families. Lead your church to partner with another church or association. Contact a veterans’ hospital, military base, rehab center, or VFW post. Host a barbecue, take a child fishing, make home repairs, or just be available when loved ones are deployed.



If your Vacation Bible School is later this summer, publicize it this month with door-to-door invitations. If it’s this month, follow up with home visits. Pray for and with each child attending. Find ways to welcome unchurched families into your fellowship.



Learn about area seasonal workers, from college interns to migrant farm workers. Host a meal and Bible study during their off time at their workplace—office, farm, or resort. Investigate their needs, and seek to meet them.



Be an education advocate. Work with school administrators or youth/children’s ministers to adopt a struggling school, student, or teacher. Listen to a child read. Mentor an at-risk teen. Eat lunch with an unpopular child. Offer Jesus’ love through the school year.



Investigate ministries to internationals or refugees. Will you let someone practice his or her English with you? Team with language churches to befriend newcomers of all backgrounds.



Investigate job training/mentoring programs for the chronically unemployed. Volunteer with your local Christian Women’s Job Corps site or a homeless center, which may need an interview coach, budget trainer, or literacy teacher. Combat hunger this month by helping build job skills.



Contact your Baptist children’s home and local social workers to inquire about Christmas gifts for area foster children and ongoing needs, from piano lessons to basketball uniforms. Don’t wait until December; caregivers must budget ahead.



Ask justice system or chaplaincy professionals how you can minister to the incarcerated and their families. Inquire about halfway houses and support for those exiting prison too.

Jeanie McLean writes from Alabaster, Alabama.

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