Why are we Different?
Love INC is different and not easy to define and articulate to others in a few words. Often people think they understand what Love INC is after hearing a little about it. Often they do not understand.
In order to help people better grasp why Love INC is different from other ministries, Love INC has identified 10 areas that define what Love INC is and why we are different. They help define who we are and the way we operate. How other organizations do their ministry is valid and valuable, and we honor that, but we do ministry differently because we are called to do it differently. These 10 areas are our non-negotiable differences and we call them our Missional Integrity Key Indicators. All Love INC affiliates must exhibit these characteristics in order to be part of the Love INC Movement. They ensure that the integrity of the vision, mission and core values of Love INC are maintained throughout the Movement.
Love INC is an explicitly Christian organization and ministry. All churches participating in the network of local churches comprising a Love INC affiliate must be Christian as defined traditionally and historically by Christians over the centuries. All staff, board and volunteers of a Love INC affiliate must be professing Christians willing to agree to the Apostles’ Creed, as it has been interpreted historically and traditionally by Christians.
Love INC believes in showing the unity of the Body of Christ to the world through local churches working together to address needs in their community. This unity is about unity of purpose – showing the Love of Christ to a hurting world – not about unity of theology. Within the parameters of being Christian, as traditionally and historically defined, all Christian churches within a community are welcome to participate in the Love INC network. However, that participation requires each church and each volunteer to be gracious to every other church and volunteer and park their theological and social stances at the door. When involved in Love INC, we are united in our purpose of serving and ministering to those in need in the community and do not allow theological or social debates to distract from this unity of purpose. The people we serve are watching us; let them see our care, not our contentions.
One of the most valuable Kingdom resources we have is prayer. Prayer is integral to who we are and permeates everything we do. Nothing should be initiated without praying first. All Love INC meetings should open with prayer. All Love INC clients should be prayed for (and with if they desire it.) Each workday should start with prayer. As the Apostle Paul said; pray without ceasing.
Love INC is a partnership of churches, not a partnership with churches. Love INC does not and cannot exist without the churches of the community being actively involved. A Love INC affiliate is only created when local churches in a community come together to initiate the process. And a Love INC affiliate ceases to be a Love INC when local churches are no longer actively involved. Love INC is church driven and exists only to aid the churches in mobilizing their members to service. Love INC exists to serve the church; the church does not exist to serve Love INC.
Just as Love INC cannot exist without local churches, clients cannot be served without church volunteers. Love INC’s role is to help churches mobilize their members to live out their faith through service to those in need in their communities. Love INC staff should not be serving clients – church volunteers should be serving clients. When Love INC staff starts delivering services, Love INC ceases to be Love INC and becomes just another social services agency or para-church ministry.
Love INC is about building relationships with clients and treating them with dignity as creations of God, made in the image of God, and having value and worth to God. Our goal is not to just address a perceived need in a transactional fashion, but to take the time to enter into relationship with those we serve in order to understand the real needs of the client, build a trusting relationship with the client, and allow the Holy Spirit to work through the church volunteers to initiate both physical and spiritual transformation. This means we take the time to understand the client’s situation and needs, include them in the solution to their need, and always treat them as image bearers of God, their creator.
Love INC is about providing a hand up and not just a hand out. Although there is a time and place for providing hand outs (for example in crisis and disaster relief situations), Love INC is not a crisis intervention or disaster relief ministry. Love INC’s primary focus is helping the church transform people’s lives (physically and spiritually) so they can break the dependency cycle they are in. We seek to engage and hold accountable people receiving help, and work with them to strengthen the assets they have and develop new ones that allow them to break the cycle of poverty and dependency they find themselves in. We call this developmental compassion (as opposed to the traditional charity compassion so prevalent in our society today.) As a result, direct financial aid to clients (charity, with little or no relationship) is not a significant component of our ministry.
Love INC’s foundational ministry is the clearinghouse model, where requests for assistance are received, assessed, referred to the most appropriate resource, and followed up on. All additional ministry modes are built upon the systems and information contained in the clearinghouse model. The clearinghouse is central to (and the center of) how Love INC functions. It is the fundamental ministry that touches and coordinates all other ministries.
Love INC exists to mobilize the church, so the church (through its volunteers and ministries) can transform lives and communities in the name of Christ. Love INC’s mission is to mobilize the church, but the ultimate goal is the transformation of the individual, the family, and the community. Transformation involves both a physical component and a spiritual component. It is not just about changing an individual’s or family’s physical circumstances, but also about awakening in them (through the Holy Spirit working through Christians) a sense of the depth of their spiritual need for Christ.
Although a local Love INC affiliate is its own entity (a non-profit organization, governed by its own Board of Directors) and is focused on its mission of mobilizing the local churches in its community, it is part of a larger network of Love INC affiliates around the country and around the world that we call the Love INC Movement. As part of this Movement, each local affiliate has a responsibility to support the Movement with its prayers, its presence, its gifts and its service. It supports the Movement by praying for the needs of other affiliates. It supports the Movement by participating in national, regional, and local gatherings of affiliates, virtual informational meetings and trainings, as well as sharing ideas and best practices with other affiliates. It supports the Movement by giving a small percentage of its financial resources to its national organization so that the Movement can be grown, trained, supported, and coordinated effectively. And, it supports the Movement by volunteering to serve on the various support teams that comprise its national organization.