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Cash Assistance
Nine out of ten Adventist pastors say that their local church gives cash to help individuals on occasion. It is the single most widespread community service among Adventist congregations and Adventist churches are more likely than other faith groups to do so.

A total of 87% of Adventist churches provide cash assistance to families or individuals in the community as compared to only 64% of all denominations. They are half as likely to do this in collaboration with another agency such as an Adventist Community Services center or neighborhood nonprofit organization.

It is an old tradition to give small amounts of cash to people who stop by the church asking for help. Yet, the truth is it does the giver more good (in fighting selfishness) than it does the “helped” in most cases. Unless someone trained as a caseworker does an adequate interview, it is highly likely that about half the people helped are simply being encouraged in irresponsible behavior and the other half is being given far less than they actually need to meet their crisis. Greater collaboration with a qualified helping agency in your community may respond more effectively to “cash assistance” needs than the way it is presently being done by most congregations.

Discussion Questions:

1. When is the last time that our church gave cash assistance to an individual or family in the community? How often does this happen?

2. Could we do better if we arranged for our community service volunteers to get some training in case management skills and found a professional social worker to give some supervision?

3. Does a half-hearted attempt at helping those in need really represent the character of God and what we want to convey as a congregation?

4. Should we appoint someone or a task force to evaluate this community service and recommend a plan to improve what we are doing?

Information is the key when planning for the future. The Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R contain research on a number of topics.

Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, November 3, 2005. Center for Creative Ministry.