Helping People at Christmas

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by tinytim, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. tinytim

    tinytim
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    I was just wondering if all you other pastors have seen an increase in request from people in your surrounding community for help for Christmas?
     
  2. SBCPreacher

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    We normally do and this year is no different. But, we've seen more needs this year than any other. The needs are great, but the financial ability of our church is limited. There is no way we can meet every need.

    The other issue is discerning between a genuine need and those who are simply making their living off of the churches.
     
  3. Jim1999

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    I don't know about the USA, but in Canada, we have so many organiations providing for the less fortunate; snowsuits for children, free gifts, other clothing, free meals. We support these organization despite te fact many of the parents receive monetary benefits from the government and waste it on booze, smokes and such.

    Christmas is the worst season for suicides and lonliness. This is a great area of need for open hearts. Sometimes just being available may save a life.

    I used to visit the nursing homes and senior retirement homes Christmas Day. Some older people are placed in such places and literally abandoned by their families. A pastoral call means a great deal to these folks. I simply read some scripture, pray with them and be there for them. They also serve who only stand and wait...Milton, On His Blindess.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
    #3 Jim1999, Dec 10, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 10, 2008
  4. tinytim

    tinytim
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    I have seen 10 times as many people calling and requesting.. some we know play churches.. .

    I hate to be so pessimistic, but why is it that people only "need" the church in December?

    Our Benevolence fund is depleted.. Zilch, nada... nothing left... we helped all we could, so If it is a real need, I am sending them on to social agencies.

    Some procrastinated to sign up for programs like the angel tree... I feel sorry for them, but we can't help everyone.

    A bigger need to meet is showing families how to live within their needs..
    I may start some type of program like this in our community.
     
  5. SaggyWoman

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    Back when I was doing church staff, there was many who would play churches to get a lot of gifts. Enough already.
     
  6. SBCPreacher

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    One of the problems we have here is that the churches don't communicate well with each other. I wish there were some kind of county or community data base of those requesting needs, so that we would be able to know if it is someone who is taking advantage of the churches. I've been here long enough to see the same names over and over again. I think every church in our area are seeing the same names.

    One of the biggest calls we get is from folks living in hotels that "need" someone to provide them with a night or two, to hold them over until that promised paycheck. One local low-rent hotel in our area has told their residents that they will not take checks from churches for their rent. They believe that these people are taking advantage of the churches and they don't like it.

    We would do anything we could to meet a genuine need, but I've become convinced that less than 50% of our calls are genuine needs. (But still, we do what we can when we can.)

    There's just no easy answer to the problem.
     
  7. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    I think there are a couple different issues here. Tinytim asked if we were seeing more requests than in years past. We are. Times are tough here we have had several plant closings and there is a lot of unemployment right now. The housing market died and put a lot of home construction workers out of work, plus the real estate brokers and contractors.

    About our only growing industry here for the last 5 years was vacation homes for rich Floridians. I can tell you that market came to a screeching halt. It's going to be a tough Christmas lots of places.

    The issue SBCpreacher raised about determining need is also very relevant this time of year. I have served as benevolence committee member and chairman and as a pastor. IMHO, you want to have a clear line of separation on these jobs. I think most people want a pastor with a generous heart who gives people the benefit of the doubt and wants to help everyone. That’s great for a pastor but not for someone holding the purse. You want a benevolence chair who watches over your money like scrooge. I think all benevolence should go through a separate committee. Pastor’s slush funds for ‘emergency’ situations are a recipe for misuse.

    Well, you don’t want any money left over, but you want to make sure those who get it are the ones who need it. You are going to get lied to and taken by con men every once in a while. You can’t let that be a reason to stop helping people, but you want to be vigilant as well. I have been taken personally more than once; I could tell you some stories. At some point you have to see it as God’s money and give as unto him, otherwise the bitterness and cynicism will take your joy.
     
  8. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    I work with several agencies. Our local food bank basically gives food out to anyone who asks. No reason, justification, or income level requirements. If you ask for food we give you food. We do our distribution’s weekly and everyone who asks for food gets the same box of food (well depending on donations there is some variety, but all distributions are similar). We have some items we let them pick from but they are mainly non food items (toothpaste, hygiene articles, 1st aid and otc medications). Everyone who asks for food is gong to get a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, a bag of rice, a bag of beans, well you get the idea. But they have to ask for it! Sometimes it is very frustrating because you see people taking food that are relatively well off and you see other members of our community that really need the help but will not ask for it.

    At church we are using the opposite approach. We have our regular benevolence and people who ask for help get referred to them. But our Christmas help, food, presents, and other needs is by referral only. Someone else (any church member) has to recognize that a family is in need and submit them. The people who get the help don’t ask for it and don’t know its coming until we tell them. We still have a lot of people in our region who would starve to death or resort to crime before they asked for a handout. They won’t sign up for government assistance in any way either.

    Hey, its not perfect but it gives balance between the cons working the system and the truly needy that are to proud to admit they need help.
     
  9. Dr. Bob

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    Our economy is booming - anyone (except druggies) can get a $9-10 an hour job. McD's hire at $9.50 for part time high schoolers.

    So only the "professional" welfare crowd (that are ALWAYS begging and eschew working) are on the dole. Same overall as any other year (we work with Salvation Army and Rocky Mtn Food Bank so are acutely aware); our church has far fewer this year.
     
  10. menageriekeeper

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    The churches in our community did just that. We all give to the J___ Area Ministerial Association (JAMES for short) and that organization takes care of all the "big" needs like paying rent/house payments, utilities, medicine and that sort of higher price items. We had SEVERAL families that went from church to church taking what they could get and moving on. Unbelievable the daring of some.

    Our church does still have a benevolent fund and a food bank. The benevolent fund is for church members or member referrals, food goes to those who request it.
     
  11. tank1976

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  12. North Carolina Tentmaker

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    Hang in there Tank, saying a prayer for you right now.

    I have been there before as many of us have. In fact I lost a job earlier this year. Thankfully I found another one before this summer.

    I have a file of well over 100 rejection letters from different companies I have applied to during periods of unemployment during my life. My wife thinks I am a nut to keep them. I also have a similar sized file of letters addressed to my Grandfather in the mid 30s. He told me that he kept them so he could use the backs in case he ever ran out of paper. I have kept mine (and his now) so that I remember to be thankful for my job.

    My current employer announced a wage freeze yesterday. Our business is holding right now but you can't blame them for being scared. A lot of folks who were due for annual increases in January were pretty upset about it but I am just glad to have a job. There are a lot of people here who don't.

    My oldest is in high school and even the part time fast food jobs have dried up. The kids are complaining that out of work "old folks" are taking their part time jobs. Every day this week I have seen guys gathered at the grocery parking lot in the mornings offering to cut firewood or do yard work.
     

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