Thursday, March 14, 2013

Building and Stewarding "Common Grace Ministries"

I'm looking forward to speaking at the annual meeting of the Council of Reformed Charities in Canandaigua, NY on April 28-May 1.

The Council of Reformed Charities is an organization that deserves the attention of a rising generation of Christians who are newly excited about what my friend Rich Mouw calls "common grace ministries"--organizations and agencies that pursue shalom for every aspect of creation, rooted in the conviction that Christ has redeemed "all things."  CORC brings together organizations that are convinced, for example, that God is just as concerned about mental health as spiritual health; that Christ's resurrection gives new life to marriages as well as souls; and that the Lord of the heavenly City also desires the renewal of our inner cities.  As we would say at Cardus, these are organization that tend the "social architecture" of North American society, while also tending to the marginalized and vulnerable.

CORC has been around a long time, but you probably don't know about it because it has been a humble organization, rooted in the Reformed tradition that spawned now-internationally-recognized agencies like Bethany Christian Services, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Inner City Christian Federation, and many more.  It's no accident that these sorts of organizations grew out of the soil of Reformed theology and institutions: we were "holistic" before holistic was cool.  As evangelicals discover the "wide-angle Gospel" of creation-wide redemption, they would do well to look to those who have been cultivating this vision for a century.

I have a burden to see the Council of Reformed Charities thrive.  In particular, I would love to see the rising generation of young Christians who are passionately committed to justice, renewal, and care for the vulnerable become part of CORC.  While they would bring new passion and energy to CORC, they would also find something there: wisdom, endurance, and what Eugene Peterson calls "a long obedience in the same direction."  If the new energy for pursuing shalom is going to endure, it needs to be rooted in healthy institutions and tended by networks of accountability and encouragement.  I think CORC provides a multi-generational space for just such growth.