Van Deren addresses the possible negative aspects of Christian benevolence ministries and proposes a path toward more a more relational, biblical, Trinitarian approach to these ministries. He states that, “when divorced from genuine personal engagement, efforts by Christians to provide one-time or short-term financial assistance to those of lower socio-economic status—though well-intentioned—can rob the recipients of their dignity and can become little more than a form of religious imperialism.” He asserts that, “these benevolence efforts fail to capture the true nature of covenantal love for neighbor, which derives from the eternal relationship of love within the Trinity between and among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” He discusses the negative nature of these benevolence ministries using personal examples, followed by a discussion of how a relational Trinitarian perspective should shape our future ministry efforts.
Kurt Van Deren
Kurt, Charlene, his wife of 20 years, and their two sons, Phelan and Brennan, moved to Portland about two and a half years ago so Kurt could attend seminary. He will complete his MDiv this spring. Kurt and his family have been involved in church plants, both in Portland and in Albuquerque, NM, where they were part of City on a Hill, which Kurt likes to refer to as the “accidental church plant”–a story for another time. It was at City on a Hill that their passion for ministry was ignited. In Portland they are part of Lifehouse, a new community of faith in the Woodstock neighborhood.
Although Kurt is about to finish school, he is still not entirely sure what his direction will be following graduation. “My desire is to point people to Jesus by being a friend and letting people see my heart for Jesus, even despite my flaws and weaknesses.” Kurt loves the academic setting and has a particular passion for interacting with college-aged people. That has been where his most satisfying ministry has taken place.
Kurt and his family love the outdoors. They usually spend as much time as they can every summer camping, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking, and they try to go to folk and bluegrass festivals whenever and wherever possible. (They have traveled far and wide to catch Tim O’Brien at festivals.) Kurt also enjoys reading, listening to jazz, and playing chess (though chess is becoming a touchy subject now that his boys can beat him).