Let’s be clear! As believers in Jesus, we are to minister to the #poor. Ministering to the less fortunate can be done in several ways, all of which are essential:
-ministering to their material needs
-ministering to their medical needs since some of the poor have mental issues
-ministering to their employment needs.
By teaching them ‘how to fish’, they can make themselves valuable to an employer so they won’t always need assistance. Since most churches are small, they don’t have the resources to start a soup kitchen or food pantry. Even the larger churches only have resources to minister to people’s material needs.
Our present church has the largest ‘compassionate ministries’ outreach of all the churches we’ve ever attended. They help feed about 250 families every other week thru our food pantry. We’ve started 3 mobile food pantries where we bring food to people who cannot come to our church to get it. We give out back packs of food to local school kids who are being raised by their grandparents. We have clothing and shoe drives. We harvest our own garden of fresh vegetables to give away thru our various food pantries. We have a ministry for special needs children. We’re just starting a “Skills For Life” program that helps people to become self-sufficient and not always dependent upon government help. It helps people with financial self-sufficiency, career & job readiness and family & parenting relationships. In total, we have some 37 ministries under the Compassionate Ministries umbrella. Check them out at ww.cmjackson.org.
Very few churches have ministries in these areas. Why? Partly because the need is so great in the 1st area. But also because churches have limited funds, so going after the most immediate needs takes precedence.
Why do churches have limited funds? Because most Christians don’t #tithe. Yes, it’s sad but true. 80% of Americans give only2% of their income to charities. Christians give only 2.5%, just a little more than the general population does. During the great depression, church members gave 3.3%. Isn’t that incredible? The point is not to guilt trip people into giving more but to show you what Christians could accomplish if we were minimally obedient to what God says to give.
If believers gave just 10% of their salaries, the church would have an extra $165 billion per year. This could accomplish the following:
$25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in 5 years.
$12 billion could eliminate literacy in 5 years
$15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues at places in the world where people live on less than $1/day.
$1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work
$100-110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
Pretty incredible numbers, aren’t they?
Also read http://healthresearchfunding.org/21-tithing-statistics).
But getting back to why most churches aren’t ministering to peoples medical/employment needs, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have written a compelling book called “When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself”. It’s an excellent book. Read a summary of it at http://southwood.org/files/pdf/WhenHelpingHurtsSummary.pdf.
While giving people food, shelter, clothing, etc., is a GREAT start, it should only be a start. A few churches in the USA have job training programs for the unemployed. We can also elect people that will implement programs to make job creation easier for businesses and for people to become more independent of the government. But right now, there are many Christian aid organizations that are worthy of our support. Groups like World Vision, Compassion International, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and even local groups like the Jackson Interfaith Shelter.
It greatly matters how we treat the poor. Let’s make sure our ‘help’ is really helping them. What are you or your church doing to help the less fortunate? Write and let me know.
For His Kingdom,