By Not Known
Love is a central Christian virtue (perhaps it is the virtue). Love is commanded in
both Old and New Testaments (Lev 18:18; 1Jn 4:7-8).
The ministry of congregational care is a particular application of the love that
believers are meant to show to one another.
We are to share one another’s joys and sadness (Rom 12:15). We are even to
share our household goods as part of the general sharing of our lives (Acts 2:44-
45). This expresses the idea of ‘God’s household’ (Eph 2:19).
Let’s think about the scope of congregational care.
We have the aspect of heart, soul, mind and body. We can have disorders and
need care in any of these aspects. Congregational care will sometimes be to sit
silently while someone weeps, giving the care of our time and presence. At other
times it might be to give ‘first aid’ in a mental or emotional disturbance and help
locate more skilled help. Someone else may need financial help, a meal or help
with a home tidy-up. Another may need straight talk in God’s name about some
folly in their life. The scope of our care needs is as broad and complex as our
There is also a geographical scope to congregational care. The universal
brotherhood enjoyed by Christians is such that the idea of ‘congregation’ goes
beyond the local church. We see this in passages such as 1 Cor 16: 1-4, 2 Cor 8-9.
The Christians of Corinth saw an obligation to send famine relief to believers in
far-off Judea whom they had never met and who were of a different race and
language. Yet they cared. This is the ‘congregation’ of all God’s people. This
challenges us as to our obligations to fellow-believers in poor Asian countries and
Is there an even wider scope to our sense of care? ‘Congregational’ care suggests
a ministy confined to fellow Christians. In this respect it is worth going back to
Lev 18:18 and Jesus’ commentary on it in Luke 10:25-37. While there is a
particular obligation to care for all who share the faith, there is also a univenal
obligation towards all people who are in need (Gal 6:10).
Whatever our level and kind of care, every act of care by God’s people is an echo
of God’s own nature which is love (1 Jn 4:16). To love and care for others is to
love and care for God himself (Mat 25:40).