I am taking a Sociology course this semester and our first assignment was to write a few thoughts on the church’s role in helping the needy. Here are my thoughts
The topic of caring for the needy is an interesting one at that. If we look at the Book of Acts we see that Christians began taking care of each other and making sure each others needs were met. In the modern time we don’t see that happening as much rather we tend to believe that the government is responsible for taking care of those without family. I believe that the person is responsible first and foremost to do what it takes to provide for themselves it then falls on the family to assist and then the church. Unfortunately we have those in the community that seek to take advantage of those who would have compassion and strip resources away from organizations and leave those taken advantage of jaded and overly cautious of helping.
As a minister I get the opportunity to organize efforts to hep the needy. I have taken the approach that the church takes care of the people in its congregation first and foremost with whatever the need may be and may require. In some cases that may mean monetary assistance and in others it may mean something else entirely. This belief is based i the idea that we as a church are a family and so we take care of our family first before turning our attention outside. When it comes to people outside the walls and in the community it is the church’s responsibility to try to provide assistance for those in true need, that is to say those and are suffering through a crisis that is beyond their ability to handle. This has to be assessed on a case by case basis and is almost always by fulfilling a need directly ie providing food, clothing or paying a bill directly rather than providing the person with cash in their hands. This past year we made sure kids had school supplies, Christmas presents and coats. We helped families buy groceries and rebuild their lives because of a fire. We also helped a family pay for funeral expenses after they lost their teenage daughter.
I believe there is a need for churches and organizations to pool their resources better and communicate better to help more families properly. rather than have 10 churches within five miles of each other trying to have makeshift food banks and clothes closets along with parachurch organizations trying to provide the same resources and competing over the attention of the people in their community to provide and stock the shelves it would seem that if they came together and did each thing with excellence so that the reources would be adequately distributed int he community through a single source.
There is a lot to be considered in helping the needy and there may be no real answer but it is a discussion that needs to be had.