Friday, April 17, 2009

Economic Response

There is no question that we are living in hard economic times. And although recent reports indicate that things might be getting better, it will be a long time before everyone in my community recovers. There is record unemployment, lowered wages, tight credit and all of this leads to one crisis after another for individuals and families.

Because of all this our churches are struggling as well, but that is simply caused be the tightening of everyone's belts. Many people are cutting back on discretionary spending, and church is considered discretionary by a lot of people.

Even though the church is in trouble, it is the church that is called upon for help. People in need turn to Christians and the established churches for assistance when they are in need. There is a strong identification in most people's minds between the church and caring for the poor and hurting. This is a good thing.

Over the past six months I have received requests for assistance from people almost every week. People need food. They need help with rent money, light bills, gas bills. They need assistance finding a job. They just need help.

Unfortunately, churches are not in a very good position to help right now. Many in need understand this, but there ought to be something that Christians can do. We should be offering help, even when we think that we are out of resources.
  • We should be offering emotional support. There are many people who need someone to talk to. They want to share their frustrations and fears. They are confused, lost, hurting and lonely. People with no income and no prospects for income are scared. Christians should be listening, sympathetic and supportive in every situation.
  • We should be offering to meet educational needs. Lay offs are great times for people to increase their level of education. Churches should be offering GED courses, job training, job assistance and resources for learning.
  • We should be offering physical support. The people who are working can help meet the needs of those who are not. One simple suggestion would be to get one extra bag of groceries at the supermarket. Give those extra items to someone in need. Many churches have food pantries that are depleted. Fill them up.
  • We should be offering spiritual support. Hurting people are looking for answers and Christians have answers. Pray for people. Pray with people. Offer them Christ. Give them hope.

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