The following are recommendations and guidelines for participation in any and all mercy ministry outreaches and events through Grace Church of Philly:
Motive for Service:
Christians do not serve the poor out of obligation or guilt or some kind of religious duty. We do not serve others to gain something for ourselves (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim. 1:9). Our service is a self-sacrificial act of love that emanates and flows from the love of God displayed at the cross and the empty tomb. This gracious love, which has been poured into our hearts at salvation by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God (Rom. 5:5), empowers our service and compassion to the poor. This love is a creative force, making acts of mercy appear in the lives of saved individuals who were formerly enemies of God, dead in spirit and alienated from Him. Christians don’t have to serve in this manner; we get the blessing of serving in this manner; we get the blessing of participating in the love of Christ.
Strive to keep our Lord Jesus Christ, His life example, His atoning death, His resurrection in power, and His current reign as King of the universe in mind as you minister to the needy. You are not simply involved in charitable work. By God’s grace, you are participating in kingdom work, i.e., the edification of poor saints and the evangelization of the lost.
Strive to keep our Lord Jesus Christ at the center of conversations you become engaged in.
Strive to remember that you are engaged in holistic evangelism, not simply feeding or clothing people. Our goal is to express and proclaim the saving love of Christ in a ministry of interdependent word and deed, which cannot be separated (James 2).
Treat and serve every person as if you are serving the Lord Christ Himself (Matt. 25:35-40).
Strive to see yourself in the person you are serving, and treat them accordingly (Matt. 22:39).
Strive to see yourself as a mere servant of all, in imitation of your Lord and Christ (John 13:1-17).
Strive to listen for genuine needs, both physical and spiritual, just as our Lord Jesus did. Dietrich Bonhoeffer states: “The first service that one owes to others…consists in listening to them…. Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking when they should be listening.” As Harvie Conn states, “We should listen with the ears of God that we may speak the Word of God.”
Offer to pray with those with whom you think it appropriate. Many of these ones are desperate to have people interact and pray with them.
Strive to abandon any sense of paternalism. In these ministries, you are condescending to enter into a partnership that should mutually edify both parties (Rom. 12:16).
Always refer to everyone as “Sir,” “Ma’am,” “Mister,” “Mrs.,” or “Miss.”
Never engage in mercy ministries by yourself. Always stay with any group that you are ministering with. There are people in such ministries who may be mentally unstable and/or violent.
Do not bring young children to participate in these ministries. Junior high schoolers who are mature and can follow directions well may participate as long as they are constantly chaperoned.
Make sure that any cuts or open wounds are covered with a bandage or clothing.
Do not bring a pocket book. Do not bring your wallet. Do not bring cash. Put your personal identification in your pocket.
Do not wear large or expensive jewelry.
Do not dispense non-approved items to the poor and/or homeless, i.e., cash, medicine, bus tokens, clothing, etc. If you are in doubt about what to do in a particular situation when solicited by someone, please direct them to one of the team leaders who have organized the event.
Do not become engaged in any altercation that may arise. In the case of such an event (which is very rare), there will be people that are designated to intervene.
Attitude of Service:
Our disposition during these times of service is one of joy and humility in the Lord, flowing from ministry of the Holy Spirit in our own lives.
 Titus 3:5 (ESV) He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit….
 Jam. 2:15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
 Matt. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
 Matt. 22:39 You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
 John 13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and with them with the towel that was wrapped around him…. 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
 Quoted in Harvie M. Conn, Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1982), 20.
 Conn, 20.
 Rom. 12:16 Do not be haughty, but associate with [condescend to] the lowly.