How does the church offer support in times of crisis? Your community may be asking themselves this question when deciding to stay at their current church or even attend church in the first place. When churchgoers were asked in 2017, if they considered the amount of church support during a crisis to be influential when considering attendance, many Americans didn’t find it important. In fact, 44 percent thought it held very little importance or none at all. Interestingly enough, today just 4 years later 29 percent of people consider it somewhat important while 34 percent find it considerably or very much important when deciding to stay in or attend church. That is an 18% increase in just a few years. This shows that more and more people value and care about how their church would support them and others during a crisis.
Many individuals have 2020 fresh on their minds, and some are still recovering from the challenges of that year. Because of this many are seeking consolation and community from their local church. Even newcomers have been prompted to attend after these challenges. And if they do not consider their expectations met by the church they visit, they might quickly leave and look elsewhere. Although, many understand that one’s involvement in church, and the relationships they foster, will determine how supportive the congregation is in times of need and that it’s not wise to only ask what the church can do for them. For many newcomers, this may be their first introduction to the church, and providing clear ways for them to find help and the community they seek can go a long way.
The church is called to be the hands and feet of Christ and it needs to be on the front lines of helping its community where other government programs and volunteer programs may fall short. This can be done by partnering with local charities or by offering direction to programs for those looking for a helping hand. The options below are some ways churches can help meet the needs of those in their congregation and in their community:
Hosting a networking event or job fair
Many are experiencing job loss or are in a time of transition, looking for something new. In Spring 2020 the unemployment rate in America rose to 15 percent and many Americans are still recovering from job loss. Even more, 55 percent, are looking to change jobs in the near future. With an ever-changing job market, churchgoers might appreciate the ability to connect with other professionals in their field or they may be looking to attend a job fair for open positions in their area.
By offering resources for them to find a new position, the church can alleviate the difficulty felt by those looking for a position to support themselves or their family. The importance of this service is illustrated in a recent national research project conducted by ACS Technologies that found that 44% of Americans have some level of concern in regard to unemployment or losing their current job, with 53% indicating they have a concern about having a satisfying job/career. The study also uncovered the significant financial concerns many Americans bear with an outstanding 74% admitting concern with financing their futures/saving/retirement and 64% stating concern for day-to-day financial matters.
Providing childcare and support
Partnering with a local homeless shelter
Clothing drives, canned food drives, weekly meal services, or just connecting members who’d like to volunteer their time are all great ways to reach out to your local homeless shelter and love those struggling. By partnering with a local shelter, congregation members can offer support and the time spent volunteering outside of regular service hours can build a strong community, foster relationships and provide a supportive network and strong friendships. When we study the ministry needs of a community, they almost always align with the gifts and preferences of those in the local church. Engaging your congregation to participate and volunteer with partner ministries is an excellent way to reach and support your community.
Providing complimentary, specialized help
Offering financial services for those suffering from a financial burden or marriage and family counseling for those looking to heal relationships with loved ones can be a great introduction for some churchgoers into the specialized help a church can offer. This may look like a biblical finance course, church benevolence fund, marital counseling, etc.
Host Addiction Support Groups
A great option would be to offer addiction recovery resources for those struggling or ways to connect with professional help in a clinical setting if needed. All too many times we find that people who are going through a crisis have a tendency to self-medicate as a way to try to cope with the challenges they are facing in their lives. For many households, this leads to dangerous and addictive habits. This opens up an opportunity for the Church to step in and help with the recovery process.
Any way that you can offer aid to those in crisis and encourage involvement in your community from your congregation members is a breath of fresh air for tired individuals looking for support and connection. By helping them find the resources they seek and an easy way to connect with others, you’re both strengthening your congregation and healing your community as Christ intended.
As many reassess their surroundings after recent hardships they may be questioning their satisfaction with the church. It’s encouraging many to respect the church enough to be a place where they look for and expect support during their time of need. If we’re able to offer them the resources they seek, the church can be an increasingly prominent safe haven for the community.
Andrew Esparza is the founder of Kingdom Analytics. This company has served over 300+ organizations doing good in the world by helping better connect them to their community, congregation, or customers using advanced demography research. He also has experience in the church world working for the largest high school ministry in the country at North Point Community Church. Andrew graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Design Management and Tourism Development and is CITI certified in Social and Behavioral Research