Post by Micah Hutchison on July 25th, 2012
I caught in today’s news cycle that Arizona ranked 46th in a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report scored states in education, economic well-being, health, and family and community. Besides the ensuing thought “that’s great”, it lead me to ponder: “What does this say for us as a church?” Without going into a lot of detail, here’s a sampling of some opinions I have about how the church can change some of the problems behind the data that lead to my home state’s bruising rank.
First, a little history. The Church has historically been a great benefactor to education. In order to ensure people can read the Bible the Church has made sure that there were schools. And because Jesus’ ministry included healing, the Church has made sure there were hospitals. As western societies grew and Christian missionaries traveled abroad, everywhere the Church went it built schools and hospitals.
Additionally the protestant work ethic, founded on the idea that obedience to God included diligence in labor and wise stewardship of resources, was a large contributor to the economic advances of the past 200 years.
Second, let’s look at our world now. Today, research points to a deep correlation between marriages that last and the economics behind child well-being. The Bible is rich with wisdom for marriage, and provides the ultimate reasons why we should marry and stay married. At Harvest we run a great class each year for couples called Love & Respect that helps husbands and wives understand each other and communicate better with each other. We encourage participation in Life Groups so couples have support from other Christians when they need it. Before we’ll marry a couple, they complete counseling. We know strong marriages allow strong families and healthy kids.
We’ve taken about 60 adults through Financial Peace University as a tool to help them build a strong financial plan and avoid and overcome the pitfalls of debt and poor planning. The principles they’ve learned will change their lives and their children’s lives, and beyond.
While a young church, we’ve been able to partner with United Food Bank for turkey drives, and the House of Refuge for clothing drives. We’ve given away over 100 back packs with school supplies in the past two years to local schools for children who needed help.
There are so many “unofficial” ways that the church has helped families as well. I’ve heard many stories of one family helping meet the needs of another family or individual within the church. Without the staff ever being involved people have paid bills, delivered meals, watched children, cared for the sick, and helped people move last minute.
One of the last resorts for children who suffer from neglect or abuse in Arizona is Child Protective Services. As our family has responded to the profound need for foster parents in our state, we’ve discovered five others that are in the process of training or information gathering to foster or adopt as well. This is just cool to me.
We’re going to be inviting men to join us for a 6-week series called 33 that will explore our calling to take responsibility for ourselves, our families, and our workplace. I know we will see healthier families because of this.
And, above all, we share the gospel. As people meet Jesus, he gives them a new lease on life that impacts all of their lives in ways that can lead them to be better parents, spouses, employees, bosses, friends, and neighbors. There’s not a problem in our world (or our state) that isn’t addressed by the implications of the gospel of Jesus.
I am excited to be a part of God’s work to redeem and restore people and even cities and states. If it wasn’t for Jesus in my life, I’d be a hopeless dad and husband, if I were still married at all. God isn’t just a helpful part of my life; he’s the crucial center. I truly believe that our community is better because the people of Harvest exist. My hope is that thousands of people meet Jesus through the ministry at Harvest in the years ahead, and that those people become a force for good that changes our state.