If you are part of a church, can I ask you to consider something I’ve been thinking about lately?
Are we, as a church, making minimum payments to the poor? Or better yet, am I, as an individual, making minimum payments to the poor?
All of us know that if you make minimum payments on credit card debt, you are basically just treading water. When you make minimum payments, the situation doesn’t really improve much, but at least it isn’t getting any worse. As a result, financial gurus, like Dave Ramsey, encourage us to make extra payments so we can get some real traction and make some real progress.
There are essentially two forms of giving – reactive and proactive.
This is when someone comes and asks you for money or something else. Having worked in a ministry for nearly 10 years, I can tell you that churches get a lot (lot, lot, lot of requests for money). Typically, churches respond by setting up a benevolence committee or something similar. For any of us who have worked in this type of ministry, it is easy to say it is a very hard job, and sometimes very hopeless at times.
Just like a person with huge credit card debts, you feel like you’re making minimum payments and you’re not making any progress. The war against poverty is being fought, but we always seem to end up on the losing end.
Proactive giving is doing something to help the poor in order to avoid, reduce, or curb the need for benevolent type giving. While we all know this is such a valuable ministry, time and time again we find ourselves overwhelmed with the problems that already exist which make it so hard to find the energy to do more than the minimum we’re already doing.
But we must do more. I must do more.
A reader recently emailed:
I am proposing a ministry that helps people with the basics of finding a job. This would be helping with resumes, interview skills, search strategies, etc. I am also proposing a ministry to help people with difficult financial situations. My idea is to help people through such situations as divorce, health crisis, debt crisis.
Now, that’s proactive giving! It might not be ministry to the poor (strictly speaking), but it is a ministry to those with financial difficulties. This person is not just waiting to respond to financial trouble once it comes, but is trying to give people the skills to avoid a financial crisis.
Do you have any encouragement or good resources for this reader? He said he needs some resources on “administering this in a church environment.” Anyone know of any such resources?
The Daunting Task of Ministry to the Poor
My wife and I been asked to write an article about short term missions to the poor for a missions journal. (The journal is Missio Dei, and you can download the first issue free.) As I’ve written that article, I’ve been discovering more questions than answers. The more I think about the current financial status here in PNG, I get more and more frustrated. I keep looking for a light, but it seems there is always a road block. If you think money is the solution to poverty – think again.
Right now I’m praying for wisdom as I’m considering starting up a small business school where I can teach Christians how to start and maintain small businesses. Anyone have any good resources for something like that? Ultimately, we want the church here to be self-sustaining and that will require some local Christians who are involved in small businesses.
May God give us all wisdom as we reach out to the poor in our communities.