By Rev. Louis Tamminga
Economic life has become more unpredictable than ever. In some sectors, fabulous profits accumulate; in others, good and able people are suddenly excluded from the economic cycle and left to subsist on greatly reduced incomes. Some of these unfortunate people may sit next to you in church on Sunday, and their number may well increase in the coming years.
These people struggle with loss, fear, depression, and the pain of rejection. There is no single way to minister to them. The officebearers must become aware of such people and devise forms of ministry in keeping with their needs. Above all, don’t hesitate to take the initiative in visiting those in your district who are unemployed. Ask them how they are doing. Pray with them. In almost all cases, elders are not able to contribute significantly to solutions. Those who struggle with the pain of economic misfortune will not expect that from you.
Still, do explore some possibilities. Are there people in your congregation who specialize in financial management? If so, suggest that your members consult with them. You must also seek advice and possible assistance from the deacons. In more general terms, bring these economic challenges to the attention of the entire council. Perhaps there are members in the congregation who know of job possibilities. Remember, if one of your district members suffers financial hardship, the entire congregation hurts.
Continue also to minister to these members pastorally. They need to see you regularly. Encourage them, read Scripture with them, pray with them. Do whatever you can to keep them from becoming isolated from the congregation. You may also seek their permission to share their burdens with the other members of your district when appropriate.