How can community resources benefit church members and others? The government administers help massively, not individually. Deacons must see that municipal, state and federal governments are being good stewards of the Lord’s resources by making them known.
The prophet Haggai reminds us that these resources, also, belong to the Lord. Here, God states, “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine” (Hag. 2:8). Information about these resources needs to be communicated. How do we discover them? Not too many years ago, social service directories were printed and bound in large volumes to provide this information (of course, by the time it was in print some of the resource information had changed). Now most municipalities and counties have online directories, as do other social service agencies. For instance, Greater Philadelphia United Way has www.211sepa.org, and in New Jersey there is www.nj211.org. The United Way agency has online lists in every state and many municipalities have a “211 phone hotline” or cellphone app to help people find services.
There are also many helpful religious-affiliated agencies. These ecumenical organizations, especially, exist to help people navigate a sometimes confusing social service system. I’ve found the Salvation Army, Lutheran, Episcopal, Catholic Social Services and Jewish Vocational Services extremely helpful. Knowledge of resources and resource personnel allows us to make good use of government, religious and private agency resources as we minister to people in word and deed. Knowledge of the best resources and lists of the same will benefit us and those we serve. At my church, we’ve developed a two-sided brochure listing the best public and private social services and Christian resources in our neighboring area.
What have you (or your church) found helpful? What resources can you share?