Today, we often see poverty through the lens of economics or personal financial weakness. In the New Testament, however, the poor are generally seen as those who are powerless in society, and who therefore lack the basic necessities they need to sustain their lives. Without resources, and without a voice, they lack not only power, but also social respect and material goods. Because of the daily stresses of survival, relationships often break down. Poverty is a disease of society, and the remedies for all our social ills are found in the life and teaching of Jesus.
In the Scriptures, it seems that God has a special place in his heart for the poor. Poverty is mentioned, directly or indirectly, more than 2000 times in the Bible. Reminding us of the Church’s call to care for the marginalized and impoverished among us, Jesus said words that pierce us to this day:
“…‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matt. 25:40).
The Vineyard family of churches leans toward the poor, the outcast, and the outsider with the compassion of Jesus. From the beginning of our movement, Vineyard churches have worked to actively serve the poor in the most practical ways possible – in our towns, cities, and spheres of influence. John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard, was personally committed to calling us to a radically compassionate life in the way of Jesus.
In the Vineyard, we believe that faithfulness to Jesus means that we are faithful to remember the poor, serve the poor, build community among the poor – and love the poor compelled by the love of God.