CHURCH BUSINESS: Lending helping hands, the way to go
By Oludare Mayowa
“The Salvation Army was founded on the principle that a man with an empty stomach doesn’t care about the gospel until he’s fed.”
The outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic and the attendant lockdown imposed by the government to contain the spread of the disease helped opened many church leaders’ eyes to the need to help the vulnerable among them.
Many churches rose to the occasion to reach out to some of the needy among them in response to the widespread hunger and lack that heralded the lockdown among some underprivileged within the territory lockdown by the government.
The palliatives distributed by some churches to their members and some people within their catchment areas provided the succour that alleviated the deprivation among many people during the period of the lockdown.
Those actions also helped the understanding of many of the church members on the true meaning of the Gospel more than the volume of sermon preached on the pulpit by their pastors.
By identifying with the needy among them, the church was invariably telling their congregations about the love of Christ through practical means and not by mere proclamations.
That singular actions alone must have won more souls to the kingdom and also convinced many that the church also care for their personal needs and was not just interested in taking from them alone.
My submission is that while the actions are commendable, the church needs to do more and not wait till such period of disaster or national tragedy such as the pandemic to respond to the needs of their members.
I am equally aware that some churches have imbibed the practice where they have a standing welfare scheme for their members. However, the process and form should be fine-tuned beyond the tokenism such practice has turned out in some places.
One of the methods church leaders could adopt to teach their congregations on giving is to purposefully set aside at least about 10 percent of their total income for charity activities within their fold and possibly beyond.
A specific team could be set up to consist of respected and credible members who should be assigned to manage such fund and the process of selection of beneficiaries for the give-back programme as a means of evangelism.
They should also have guidelines specifying the modalities for the distributions and accounting for funds in a transparent manner, while intervention should be categorised into primary and secondary with secondary addressing critical areas like health, business support and scholarship etc, while primary categories should focus more on the provision of foods and raiment support to those who are in need.
The question some people may want to ask is why should the church take up the business of charity and reaching out to the needy as a major part of their activities?
This is essential because such is part of the foundation laid by the Apostles when they have to set aside competent and men of integrity like Stephen and the six others to manage the distributions for the people. What followed such action was tremendous growth and multiplications within the fold. This is one of the true Acts of the Apostles, which are great model left for the church to emulate thereby enhance the multiplications of souls in the kingdom.
During the early ministry of Jesus Christ, he also set such examples for his followers on giving to the poor by his feeding of 5,000 and 4,000 people at some points.
Ordinarily, if Jesus had not intervened, the disciples would have sent the crowd away with empty stomach after they have been fed with the spiritual word.
Also, Apostle Paul set a similar example of charity in his ministry by collecting regular offering specifically to meet the need of some members of the church.
Welfare in the church should not be based on tokenism, whereby it is done haphazardly but purposefully to ensure that those who have are shelter to those who don’t.
The church should also take a cue from the early missionaries, who brought the gospel to our shore, it was their acts of giving through many means that led to the quick spread of the gospel to many part of the country and around the world.
Let the church arise and be in the forefront of impacting lives through giving back to the needy among them, and then the purpose of the gospel shall be fulfilled and made clear to many.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be … For the poor you will always have with you in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:7-11
Significantly, the scripture is very clear about what God want us to do to alleviate the suffering of some people among us and the church can lead the way in this through purposeful giving back to the society, especially those of the household of faith.
Then we can start talking about the impact of the gospel on the people and the church will start seeing changes that truly come from the fresh approach to outreach.#GFD