Local Compassion

“Philosophy of Local Missions” of River Oaks Community Church:

(based on our Purpose Statement, culture statements and historical mission practices)

  1. We believe that one of the vital components of being a fully devoted follower of Christ is to show compassion to the poor. The Biblical record is clear that God has a soft spot in his heart for the ‘least of these’ and he has called his followers to have the same and to show it in practical service to assist them in their need. We believe that we will give an account to God of how we responded to the ‘least of these’ around us (Matthew 25).
  2. We believe that one of the other vital components of being a fully devoted follower of Christ is to go to the lost with the message of Christ. Compassion ministry is not the only way we evangelize, but compassion ministry is a natural context to share the message of God’s love and grace given to us through Christ on the cross and we will be intentional about sharing not just bread but also the ‘Bread of life’.
  3. From time to time God may call us to initiate a local compassion ministry. However, we believe our primary calling is to come along side local agencies that are already doing that ministry and support them with volunteers and financial resources.
  4. We will seek to invest our time and resources in the local agencies that are both meeting the physical and spiritual needs of those they serve.
  5. From time to time God may call us to serve local agencies primarily with our financial resources. However, we believe our primary calling is to serve local agencies that not only need our financial assistance but our volunteer assistance as well. We strongly desire our people to ‘follow the money’ into the context of need whenever possible.
  6. We believe in assisting the poor, but we also believe in helping the poor become independent and capable of supporting themselves. Therefore, we will seek to partner with agencies who desire to help people gain independence and work their way out of poverty and into independence.

The Oath for Compassionate Service (taken from Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton)

Never do for the poor what they have (or could have) the capacity to do for themselves.

Personal responsibility is essential for social, emotional and spiritual well being as to not disempower them. The effective helper can be an encourager, a coach, a partner but never a caretaker.

Limit one-way giving to emergency situations.

Ask yourself if the need is crisis or chronic? Victims of a devastating event need immediate medical attention, shelter, essential supplies and hoards of volunteers. Over time survivor needs shift to expert consultation, a practical plan and a combination of grants and loans to help them rebuild their destroyed community.

  • Give once and you elicit appreciation;
  • Give twice and you create anticipation;
  • Give three times and you create expectation;
  • Give four times and it becomes entitlement;
  • Give five times and you establish dependency.

Strive to empower the poor through employment, lending, and investing, using grants sparingly to reinforce achievements.

Lending to the poor establishes mutually beneficial relationships characterized by responsibility, accountability, and respect. Lending done well, builds mutual trust and respect. Investing-making money with the poor-is the ultimate method that economically strengthens through job-creating partnerships and implies an ownership stake in sustainability and profitability of the venture.

Subordinate self-interests to the needs of those being served.

Organizational interests can subtly take precedence over the interest of the poor. When the church agenda is to create an inspiring, enriching and well planned mission experience for members, the real needs like decent schools and stable employment may be overlooked and dismissed.

Listen closely to those you seek to help; especially to what is not being said-unspoken feelings may contain essential clues to effective service.

The poor we serve may be reluctant to reveal ‘the whole story’ to helpers due to intimidation, fear of judgment, fear of losing support, fear of appearing unappreciative. . Effective helpers must learn to carefully observe behaviors, ask insightful questions, use their intuition, and hear what is not being said.

Above all, do no harm.

Before we embark on any new service venture, we should conduct an ‘impact study’ to consider how our good deeds might have unintended consequences. Are we creating dependencies that may ultimately erode self-sufficiency?

Supported Community Agencies

River Oaks Community Church actively supports the following agencies through finances and volunteer opportunities.


Church Community Services

Church Community Services (CCS) was created 44 years ago as a people to people program to address the issues of poverty in the Elkhart Community. Their mission as a faith based agency is to help people of Elkhart County weather life’s storms and build more secure futures through emergency assistance and intensive job and life skills training.

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Faith Mission

Faith Mission of Elkhart is an inter-donimational Christian social service agency which provides food, shelter, clothing and other services for needy individuals. Their mission statement is “To provide faith-based programs and services that minister to the homeless and other individuals so they may have positive life changing opportunities.”

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The Spa

The SPA is an educational and faith-based residential home that offers women a safe environment to make positive and permanent life changes. The main goal of this organization is to improve the quality of life for those women who have been struggling with the choices that led them down a wrong path in their past.

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The Crossing Educational Center

The Crossing Educational Center is an accredited, faith-based alternative school servicing high school students who haven’t excelled in a traditional school setting facing issues of poor grades, attendance, social conflicts, or behavior. Our students come from public schools, private schools, home schools, and even the streets. The Crossing has 18 campuses across central and northern Indiana servicing over 1,000 students with four of those schools being brand new locations for the 2014-2015 school year. Our mission is to empower struggling students to become contributing members of their communities through academics, job-training and faith-based mentoring.

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RETA is a faith based, pregnancy and family resource center that provides services and help for those facing an unplanned pregnancy; for new parents or new grandparents, for men who want to make a better life and/or learn to be better dads, and women who want to become better moms. Their mission is to provide life-affirming services, building Christ-centered families.

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The Window

The Window is a non-profit, faith-based organization that serves the Goshen area. Their mission statement is “To provide services to meet the essential needs of anyone with limited income.

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Service Groups

The following service groups are compassion ministries based at River Oaks. These groups offer opportunities to SHOW compassion to the poor both within and outside the walls of River Oaks. 

Fixers Builders and Instructors

FBI (Fixers Builders and Instructors)

The FBI exists for the purpose of assisting and encouraging the less fortunate in our church and community by doing home repairs, building projects and instructing from God’s Word, through labor, as reflections of God’s love. They meet the second Wednesday of each month in the Heavenly Grounds café at 6:30 P.M. and are open to everyone. No special skills are required. You can work, learn or watch. They do projects all year long but do have busy and not so busy times. These guys are servants and have servants hearts. They always have fun and enjoy the lasting friendships that come out of serving together.

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The HUGS Project of Elkhart County is a non-profit organization who provide “cooling neck ties” (HUGS) and care packages to soldiers serving our country in the blistering heat of the Middle Eastern dessert. The mission of the HUGS Project is to place a HUG around the neck of every military person serving in the Middle East, letting them know they are appreciated and not forgotten. These volunteers meet twice a month to hand-make neck ties and prepare care packages to send to our troops. They are always looking for volunteers to help cut, sew and fill HUGS and prepare items for shipping. Donations of care package items and cash donations to purchase items and ship boxes are appreciated. For those who serve in this ministry, it is the best way to say “thank you” to the men and women fighting for freedom. A thank you from one of our troops:

Greetings from Afghanistan! Thanks a lot for the support and the package. We really appreciate it. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice! At least 25 Marines and Sailors were directly affected by your kindness and on behalf of them all I would like to extend our appreciation and gratitude. Thank you and your coworkers for what you do! I can’t say that enough. The amount of smiles you placed on faces showed it all. Our job involves getting dirty, going to random, secluded locations and working odd hours. Your box filled with reminders from back home help keep us going and pushing harder. It’s people like you that really make our job worthwhile and really give us a sense of purpose and pride in what we are doing. THANKS AGAIN!!! We love you!! Deenroy

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Garden Club

The ROCC Garden Club is a seasonal ministry designed to serve others by tending to a garden that will feed those in need. Volunteers work from April to November to plant, tend and harvest vegetables for the food pantry at Church Community Services. It is the desire of those who serve in this ministry to provide fresh produce for those who may not otherwise be able to afford them. Working in the garden is a great way to get to know other families who attend River Oaks. The KidsPatch garden is specifically designed to get families with younger children involved in this ministry opportunity. For more information about the KidsPatch, contact Rachel Campagnoli.

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Jail Ministry

Jail Ministry

The primary focus of the jail ministry is to effectively serve the men and women incarcerated in the Elkhart County Correctional Complex. This is achieved by providing spiritual growth opportunities, programs, education, resources, communications, family outreach and entertainment to inmates. We seek to develop positive, supportive relationships with inmates, which may continue as they are released or sent to prison. The desired outcomes from this ministry include: inmates develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and experience Spiritual growth, reduced recidivism through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, growing relationships with Christ followers, transitional coaching, practical help and Spiritual growth for those who serve in this ministry.

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Endorsed Community Agencies

The following local agencies are faith-based ministries in which individuals at River Oaks are involved with and have been affirmed by the Local Compassion Committee. If you are interested in more information about these agencies, click on a name below.

Regular attenders of River Oaks Community Church actively involved in local, faith-based agencies may submit an agency for the Local Compassion Committee to consider for endorsement. Please Email Tara Judd with information about the agency.