The Nature of Compassionate Engagement in Service to the Poor

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This study explores what the nature of compassionate engagement manifests as when it involves ministry to the poor. It begins with the assumption that compassionate engagement does manifest when ministry to the poor is taking place and then attempts to determine what that manifestation looks like. The reason for the exploring of this question is to be able to encourage, empower and exhort ministers to the poor to be in ministry with the poor while engaging them compassionately. This study approaches this effort in three ways. First, it looks at the discussion in current urban ministry literature about the nature of the relationship between “word” and “deed”.

The second approach conducts historical studies of two seminal church figures who are renown for their compassionate engagement in ministry to the poor: Vincent de Paul and Mother Teresa. The historical study looks at what scholarship says about them as it relates to this topic; aspects of their ministry philosophy that deals with this theme and finally at their personal and/or private writings which directly address this theme. The historical study produced a list of specific actions and behavioral changes which could be incorporated into ministry immediately to see more compassionate engagement occur.

The third approach was through conducting a contemporary case study of a Christian ministry program which houses and equips homeless families. In this case study, program graduates were interviewed and asked to describe their experience as it related to compassionate engagement with staff members in the ministry. Their responses also produced a list of specific actions and behaviors which could be incorporated into ministry immediately. The case study included a focus group of the staff members and concluded with an online survey.

The study concludes with recommendations and applications to individuals and organizations which minister to the poor which include but are not limited to the review of the produced lists of actions and behaviors to generate more compassion.

Mentor: Randy Reese, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Reese, Randy

Document Type



Church work with the poor; Poor; Poverty; Compassion


Missions and World Christianity


Public Access: If you attend a college or university, you may be granted access for free through your school library subscription to ProQuest Theses & Dissertations. Copies may be available for purchase via ProQuest Dissertations Publishing https://dissexpress.proquest.com/search.html

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