When there is a need with millions of people involved, there are only two choices.
First, an organization can be formed which raises millions of dollars and throws money at the faceless masses, hoping against hope that some of it “sticks” and a few people are helped. The second option is that millions of people can go out and develop loving relationships with these millions of people with needs, so that love and service is partnered with financial assistance and education, when and where it is needed.
In the first instance, all that is usually accomplished is the mass of needy people become a mass of dependent people. Nothing really changes in their lifestyle or outlook. Millions of dollars cannot be managed properly to meet individual needs, or to provide any long term solutions. It is impossible.
In the second instance, where individual relationships are developed in the process of helping individual needs, the mass of needy people are transformed through loving personal relationships, in which they are coached and trained to make any necessary changes in their life, or just provided with the means, resources, and personal accountability to climb up to the next step. And in return, the people who serve and help others gain a sense of satisfaction, significance, and joy, because they have done something more with their lives than sign their name on a check.
Raise Disciples, not Money
I would like to see ministries and non-profit organizations rise up where the call is no longer, “Send us your money so we can give it to the poor” but rather, “Come with us to develop long-term relationship with the poor (or whoever), so that over time you can meet their needs personally.”
People with needs don’t always need money. They need love. They need relationships. They need care, protection, and guidance. Yes, financial assistance may be part of this from time to time, but money will not be the answer for everything.
If you have money you want to put to use to help others in need, you would be better off (as would the people who need the help) to put it to use in your own town, your own neighborhood, and your own city. Don’t just write a check. Go down and actually sit with the people you are feeding. Serve them. Talk to them. Hang out with them. Love them. Be with them. This is incarnational living. This is being Jesus to the world. This is loving others like Jesus.
If you think needy people do not exist in your community, your probably are not looking hard enough. Begin by praying for God to show you who they are and where they live and work, and then, pray for the courage and wisdom on how to do more than just put some money in a plate or write a check to an organization.
You may pass on the offering plate, but don’t pass to the other side of the road when you see a fellow person in need.
Jeremy, this is such common sense. Thank you for writing this post!
This is how we invest our time, stuff and money. Yes, we know it’s not a perfect system. Sometimes people use us, our stuff and our money for purposes other than needs. Of course, maybe they think they really, really need a six pack of beer.
Jesus’ advice to the rich young ruler to sell everything and give it to the poor – Might it also be His advice to the organization we know as the church? Does that organization really need hundreds of billions of dollars (I have read total value of properties in the USA alone estimated at $300 billion to $3 trillion) of “stuff”? Think of what just half of that money could do if spent worldwide for clean water, vaccines, micro-loans and so on, and in the USA to combat homelessness.
Once we have grown accustomed to a 60″ television, cable, an iPhone, cell phones and the list goes on and one, we decide we REALLY NEED them (and that stuff is so much more righteous than the poor guy’s six pack he bought with the ten I gave him, right?) But do we? Likewise, does the church really need all the wealth it has accumulated? O.k., I won’t tell the story of the guy who told me he has been in the vaults or whatever they’re called at the Vatican and what he saw there.
I don’t think it best to just give away money to the poor. First, there struggles might be what God is using to get their attention. By building a relationship with that person, we can share Christ with them. Secondly, what are they going to do with it? I have seen some take a handout and go straight to buy alcohol. That is not helping them. Just my thoughts.
Encouraging Thoughts for Life