Dear Pastor: Helping or Enabling?

Content by Rev. Paul Johnson, CCA

This is a series of articles about real world problems that churches often find difficult to handle. They are presented in the form of emails for ease of conversation but can come in many different ways. Disclaimer: All the names are made up and in no way identify actual people nor does the author assume responsibility for the opinion expressed in the response.

Dear Pastor 9


January seems to be the start of a renewed season of requests. Most are not quite as bold as the email above but many have characteristics of our example.

There are several steps that a church and pastor may do to help make this process more effective and easier to manage.

Here are several key questions to ask ourselves.

  1. What is the most effective thing that would help this person (family) to survive for the moment but also lead them to permanent solutions?
  2. Are we really helping or reinforcing bad or non-productive behaviors?
  3. Why help this family and not the next one? Or the last one?
  4. Have we gathered information on existing resources and opportunities to help folks?
  5. Have we developed guidelines or policies in dealing with assistance to folks with financial need?
  6. Are we supporting the local and global agency’s that can provide long-term systemic help?
  7. Are we networking with other local churches to share resources and information? Do we share a list of the folks we help and how we helped with each other?
  8. Do we have an “end game” plan that details how much we do and then stop?

This is not an exhaustive list but will certainly get you started on developing a plan to best help and create a workable plan for direct support, when appropriate.



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