Is your church compassion ministry underutilized? Reaching out to the poor is harder than you might think.
When beginning a compassion ministry it is important to have reasonable goals for short term, mid-term and long term. It takes time to build up the trust that is required by church members and by the people to whom you are ministering. Talking with other groups can help you get an idea of what your goals should be.
Evaluate at every quarter for the first year and then at 18 months before deciding if your church compassion ministry is under utilized.
If at any time your church is not hitting its goals its time to reevaluate. Taking a look at the list below may help make your compassion ministry even more effective.
#1 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
Was a complete need survey done? Did you check with other churches and agencies to avoid duplication of services? Ministries can fail because the basics are overlooked.
Example: Before developing a daily soup kitchen try it one day a month for 1- 3 months. If the turnout is good you may be able to expand. Try a one day clothing giveaway to see if a clothing closet is needed etc.
#2 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
What hours are the offered services available? Be sure you are setting hours when your target population can receive help.
Example: A food pantry may be a good idea. Opening it from 10:00am ‘” 12:00 pm once a way may not be.
#3 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
Is culture being considered? Norms that exist in one may not exist in another.
Example: Opening a new service aimed at youth and the under churched with traditional music.
#4 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
Did the volunteer participants take ownership of the ministry? A successful ministry has a core group of members who are willing to get involved.
Example: Don’t wait for the pastor to do it.
# 5 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers
Is your compassion program speaking the same language as your target population? Does each understand the colloquialisms of the other? This doesn’t just apply to immigrants. Poor people, youth and the underserved speak their own language.
Examples: Don’t advertise your English classes in English. Youth may respond better if told “church is cool” instead of church is good for you.
# 6 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
People served through compassion evangelism may not speak, look or smell like the volunteers who are working. Volunteer staff and church members need to be taught what to expect.
Example: Beginning a ministry to street people and complain that they smell different.
# 7 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
Paperwork and Recordkeeping
Does your church want to develop complicated forms and paperwork? Do you want to keep up with social security numbers, copies of identification and utility bills? The more detailed the recordkeeping the more likely it is to overwhelm volunteers.
Example: Keep tally marks and names of the people served instead of keeping sensitive data.
# 8 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
This goes both ways. A church may be excited about helping build a compassion evangelism ministry for “those people”. Those being served may wonder “if the church has never helped before why would they start now”.
# 9 Church compassion evangelism the top ministry killers.
Biting off more than your volunteers can chew.
You can’t decide what’s broken and “fix it”. Treating the other person as your friend goes a long way.
Example: One bag of groceries won’t solve the problem of chronic poverty. The poor need a living wage job. Telling them to budget what they won’t have won’t work. Instead, be supportive, caring and nonjudgmental.
The best compassion ministry is one that expects people who are poor to be friends that you haven’t met. As with any relationship there may be ups, downs and bumps in the road. Effective programs build relationships that last for years.
The author has a decade of experience working with the poor and has worked with victims of domestic violence for over 15 years. She has worked in both rural and urban settings and has designed start-up services in both.