Not Just a Soup Kitchen by David Apple

Guest blogger
Today, so many churches are comfortable following the practice of previous generations that didn't involve themselves in ministries of mercy. Many today are fearful of thinking "outside of the box" and lack vision and biblical direction. In 1983, one small group at Tenth Presbyterian Church in downtown Philadelphia challenged that same attitude and subsequently many others caught the vision. Wanting to feed the hungry, they asked the question, "How can our ministry be different from a soup kitchen?" Because of their actions, lives have been transformed and captives have been set free--both those outside the church and those in the pews. What would your church look like if you did the same? 

I came to salvation in Christ as a college freshman. This was through the mercy ministry of a Paterson, New Jersey inner-city church plant. Their leaders and members were passionate in their outreach to sinners like me. 

Today, I don't see the same zeal in church, whether urban or suburban. Whenever I consult with church leaders on diaconal and mercy ministry I hear reports of deacons and churches not being equipped for the word and deed ministry to which they are assigned. The questions I receive from them are always the same: "What do I do in this situation? How much do I give and when do I stop? How do I deal with difficult people? How do I avoid burn out? How do I partner evangelism and mercy?" And more.  Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry Transforms us All (publication date, September 9) is written to answer these and other questions. This work is the product of fifteen years' personal diaconal experience, over twenty-five years directing Tenth Presbyterian Church's Mercy Ministry, and my life's story.

Throughout the pages of Not Just a Soup Kitchen you will learn about how people serve and what initially stirs up a person's heart for ministry. I hope you will be encouraged by their confidence for serving in areas that most Christians refuse to go. I hope, also, that you will be encouraged by a user-friendly framework for diaconal ministry and answers to several of the frequently asked questions on mercy and diaconal ministry I've received. Finally, I've included other resources that will benefit your ministry and your walk with the Lord.

Not Just a Soup Kitchen is for churches that are desperately seeking answers on how to do diaconal ministry effectively. It is also for anyone who works with people ordinarily stigmatized and not welcomed in churches. The book deals with the fears many have of coming alongside those in need, and chronicles stories about homeless and addicted men and women, nursing home residents, prison inmates, and others, while providing a user-friendly guide to establishing relationships.

Church leaders, officers, and seminarians I've spoken to are hungry for this information.  Not Just a Soup Kitchen is in response to their needs. 

The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals has several copies of this book as a free gift. If you are interested, please sign up here.

Also, the Reformation Society of Indiana is hosting Dr. Apple for a free conference on October 31 and November 1, 2014. You can download the brochure here.

David Apple, in his many years of experience, has had two philosophies of ministry: 1) There is no mercy without the Gospel--we must provide an alternative to what the world offers; 2) Don't work harder than the people coming for help--encourage independence, not dependence. These philosophies are seen plainly in his work with poor and homeless persons, drug addicts, incarcerated adults and youth, nursing home residents, separated and divorced men and women, and others.

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