We can’t ignore the problem of unemployment. Although you may be secure and satisfied within your pastoral position or job, there are those around you who are living without a regular paycheck. Is there any way that the church can help them?
- Don’t just say, “I’m praying for you.” Instead, truly pray for them. Then, proactively seek to help them. There is nothing quite as cliché, dishonest, and even potentially hurtful than a flippant, “Oh, I’ll pray for you.” Unless, of course, you mean it. The problem is, many people who say it, don’t mean it. Maybe this is pessimistic view of things. We should pray. We should also try to encourage people by telling them that we’re praying. If you say it, mean it. If you say it, do it. Prayer is important. It is not to be underestimated, dismissed, or ignored. To the ears of a disappointed, penny-saving, job-hunting unemployed person, prayer needs to be real.
- Be normal. Don’t try to treat unemployed people as some special group that needs to be handled gingerly. For the most part, a jobless person is not looking for pity parties, soupy sentimentality, or twenty dollar bills discreetly stuffed into jacket pockets. Be kind. Be loving, but don’t demean someone with condescension. Go easy on the advice. Avoid asking questions such as “Are you looking?” or “Have you sent out any more resumes?” or “Are you willing to do anything?”
- Form a church job network. One of the best places to find jobs is from people within the church. Forming a church job network is as easy as putting up a bulletin board with a “Jobs” sign at the top. Job seekers can look for opportunities or even post a resume or phone number. Job hunters can post their needs. You may even try a sophisticated online system for a job network. At the very least, support an atmosphere where people can be open about needs and opportunities for employment.
- Provide free workshops. If you know of someone in your church who is in HR or recruiting, an entrepreneur, or a hiring manager of some sort, approach them and see if they have the skills or willingness to speak for a workshop. Workshop topics can be job-hunting skills, resume readiness, interview advice, using online job boards, entrepreneurship, etc. In addition to helping people within your own church, free job workshops or even hosting a job fair can be a great way to help the community as well.
- Get involved in government. Some of the systemic problems of unemployment can be traced back to local government. Don’t back down from getting involved in community petitions, town hall meetings, or even governmental positions. Do you want to be a positive influence in your area? Then do what you can to create a business-friendly community with more job opportunities.
- Start a relief fund. Sometimes, when a person is unable to get a job, unable to gain unemployment checks, and unable to feed their family, the church should step in. Use this money for especially needy people.
- Hire. With many churches in the lurch financially, it is impossible (not to mention unadvisable) for the church to hire every jobless person. Think creatively, though. Could you use a part-time secretary or janitor, or groundskeeper? Alternately, there may be people in the church who could hire someone in the church for their own needs.
Joblessness is a problem. When the church stands idly by, she is neglecting her mandate to help those in need (e.g., Galatians 6:2; 6:10). Although your church may not be able to singlehandedly reverse unemployment in your community, you can do something to help.