“Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston.

According to CASRO (Council of American Survey Research Organization), spending on marketing research across the globe is in the $18.9 Billion. That is the money spent to collect data from people like you and me, either via phone surveys, or online paid surveys, or any other number of means.That is a lot of money, but it is well spent. It is impossible to sell products or services that customers do not want. Research gives the company actionable data into the needs and wants of the customer.

The church needs market research as well. We want to connect to people right where they live, and we love them too much to leave them there if they are far from the heart of God. The question is how can we better serve the people who live by one of our campuses? Titus 3:14 answers that question: ”Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.”

Everywhere around us are broken and dying people. There are people abusing drugs, there are children begging for food, widows needing help, homeless people in torn and dirty clothes. There was a mother with two babies—she was sitting at a laundromat weeping, her tears falling down on the faces of her hungry children.

Here’s the sad part. Most of those people live within a short distance from a church. Jesus identifies Himself with the least of these—He says I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked, I was sick, I was in prison. We see it throughout the life of Jesus; He always had time for the least of these. In fact, most of the miracles that Jesus did was when He was just out and about. He didn’t plan outreach events with the disciples. He just did what He saw the Father doing, and that was loving  people.“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19.

If we sing about things like God’s love, His heart, drawing closer to Him and wanting more of Him, we are going to inherit more of His heart. His heart is for you and me, and it’s also for the “least of these.” Yet do we see them? Do we cross paths with them? Can we do everything for every need. No we can’t. Can we do more? Yes, I believe we can. And that begins with opening our eyes to see the needs of people in our community.

We cannot open our eyes if we seldom wander outside the walls of the church. Nor will we meet urgent needs if we ignore it, treat it exclusively as a spiritual problem, or refer people to professionals and wash our hands of their trouble. We have a responsibility toward those who are, as Jesus says, “the least of these.”

Discussion Question:

1. Do I see the need around me, even when the need is minor?
2. What is my/our responsibility toward those who are, as Jesus says, “the least of these?”
3. Pray and ask God for wisdom in how to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives this Christmas.