Written by Gary Foreman
From his column Life Stewardship
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9:6-8 NIV).
Scripture encourages Christians to take care of those needing help (James 1:27), but the topic is often difficult for pastors and staff to address. We recognize that many in our congregations are struggling to make ends meet, but we may not be sure of the appropriate way to respond.
So how do we encourage our flock to give of themselves in the name of Jesus? We might begin by considering the impact of giving on our own health. Studies show that assisting others, either financially or physically, can actually boost our physical and mental health. From volunteering at a soup kitchen to committing to raise money for a specific charity, health benefits associated with giving may include:
- Lower blood pressure,
- Increased self-esteem,
- Less depression,
- Lower stress levels,
- Longer life, and
- Greater happiness and satisfaction.
As followers of Christ, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a needy world, and this is something we can do even if we can’t spare a single dollar.
Volunteering is free, except for the time we give, and can be a wonderful witness to an unsaved world. Whether it’s serving the homeless, foster children, or the local YMCA, time spent volunteering not only demonstrates the love of Christ but also gives us one-on-one time with those who may not know the Lord.
We all know most mothers never get a moment’s peace. They’re either working at their job or doing “mom stuff” at home. What if we offer to give a neighborhood mother a “Mom’s Day (or evening) Out” by watching their little ones? This can be done either individually or as an organized event at church. And the moms wouldn’t be the only ones who benefit. We can involve the church youth group to help them experience the joy of serving others in the name of Christ. Think of what a wonderful impact this can have on our communities.
As we look around our congregation or neighborhood, we can usually find someone who needs help with small, simple tasks they can’t do themselves (or can’t afford to have done). The elderly, single moms, those with physical disabilities, can often use a bit of assistance. Creating a church DIY team that can rake leaves, do simple home repairs, paint, shovel snow, or change oil would be a blessing to them.
Technology has left some of us behind. Who knew that a smart phone, tablet, laptop computer, or PC could have so many settings and options? And it’s not just the elderly who sometimes struggle. This is a perfect opportunity for a youth group or young singles who are tech savvy to serve. They could install apps, demonstrate how to use programs, or fix mistakes that may have caused the problems in the first place.
Similar opportunities exist for those with “insider” knowledge. Whether it’s a banker, auto mechanic, nurse, teacher, electrician, or plumber, many have expertise that can benefit others—and it doesn’t necessarily have to be career-related. Skills like gardening, cooking, cleaning, and simple home repairs can be useful, too. A Saturday morning “Share Your Skills” series might be popular both with people within and outside the church.
As believers, we know the value of the blood of Christ that was shed for us. Our blood can’t provide salvation, but it’s truly valuable to others when they are suffering. Did you know that one unit of whole blood (slightly less than a pint) can save three lives? Giving platelets takes a bit more time than a regular donation of whole blood, but in the Kansas City area alone, nearly 600 donations are needed daily by patients. Many community blood banks are happy to send a mobile unit to a local church. Just contact them, arrange for a date, and publicize the event. It might even make a good sermon topic!
Finally (and most importantly) every believer, regardless of age, experience or skillset can pray. Each of us should pray for those around us and, as pastors, encourage our flock to pray for those with every kind of need. Prayer costs us nothing in dollars but is of infinite worth.
Gary Foreman is an assistant pastor, author, former financial planner, and founder of TheDollarStretcher.com. If you have questions or suggestions for columns, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/