Written July 12,2018.
Earlier this week a young man stopped by the church seeking assistance. He needed gas in his car to get to work. I took him down to the Citgo on the corner and gladly got him $15 worth of gas. When he then asked for money, I refused.
When I was in Washington State, I served a large, established congregation located in the city center. There I dealt with people stopping in asking for all sorts of assistance on an almost daily basis. I established a voucher system with several other churches to help keep track of what assistance had been provided, and to prevent abuse. I quickly learned there the wisdom of advice my father had given me. After serving in congregational ministry for 40 years he said to me “Remember, Bill, I’m always willing to be taken by someone, but never for a lot…”
At CTR, we have had a few (and relatively very few) instances when someone has shown up during Sunday morning worship asking for help. When this happens, it is difficult to know how to respond. I ask you to keep these three things in mind:
-By all means, be courteous and respectful. Invite that person to come in and join us for worship or fellowship. Unless that person appears to present a danger, there is no need to try to run anyone off.
-By all means, do not give money to anyone! We have had one young man in particular come by repeatedly. I fear he does so because people in our congregation have given him cash.
-Should someone show up on Sunday morning asking for help, please direct that person to Steve or me. If we are occupied or tied up, which is often the case on Sundays, that person will have to wait. That’s okay!
We all want to help other people, especially those who are in need. This is a good and godly thing, and it’s what IITB is all about! But giving cash to people who stop by is simply never a good idea, and might not be truly helping them in the end. Steve and I will look for ways to provide assistance without handing over actual money.
The bottom line for all of us is: Help, yes, in small and appropriate ways. Cash, no!
See you Sunday!