Direct Service

7 JULY 2017

A Case Study in Apathy

Faced with the choice of serving a local community filled with human need, some churches, like Bartleby the Scrivener, say, “I would prefer not to.” Bartleby, the lowly office worker in Herman Melville’s short story, engages in passive resistance when faced with an unwelcome assignment, for inscrutable reasons. Most non-service-oriented congregations prove equally inscrutable. John […]

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1 JULY 2017

Under the Radar: When Outreach Goes Unreported

In the average congregation, a majority of the community service activities done by its members flies under the radar. It may seem strange, yet church leaders consistently underestimate how much work the congregation is doing. Serving meals in the soup kitchen, giving away warm clothes, or participating in advocacy groups—why would most of these efforts […]

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6 MAY 2017

Syringe Exchange: One Pastor’s Experience

Harm reduction is a practical strategy to promote safety among persons who use drugs. Needle exchange is a good example of the approach. Congregations in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Boston offer needle exchange services. People who inject drugs often share needles, raising the risk of infection with Hepatitis C or HIV. Providing […]

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28 APRIL 2017

Donating Goods: 4 Creative Ideas

With over 3 million members, Dosomething.org is one of the largest online organizations for young persons aged 13-25. Their purpose: “to make the world suck less” through promoting social action. Here are some creative ideas for young people or “old people” (meaning over the age of 25) that each involve donating something to people who […]

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Young mission volunteers building a house
22 APRIL 2017

Before Serving Others, Raise Your Awareness

I hate it when volunteers come down here,” a neighbor told Robert Lupton, author of the book, Toxic Charity.   Virgil, who lived in an economically challenged neighborhood of Atlanta, had just observed a fourteen-passenger van filled with young volunteers on a mission trip.  This church group been coming every weekend for two months and had […]

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25 MARCH 2017

Five Toxic Approaches To Using Volunteers

We all know the importance of volunteers for the success of any community project. Yet inappropriate attitudes and behaviors can spell the failure of any volunteer effort. Marlene Wilson, a specialist in volunteer training, offers these toxic gems[1]: Program director does all the work for the team.  The problem could be a lazy team, but […]

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15 DECEMBER 2016

No Food Fights!: How to Build Program Capacity

The Rev. Rod Frohman of Rochester, NY, tells the story of a noon lunch program that devolved into a worst case scenario. A couple of years ago at Third Presbyterian Church, our Saturday noon lunch program had a glut of unexpected visitors, probably double the eighty people we usually feed every Saturday noon. We later […]

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Video: Food Banks Need Cash, Not Canned Goods

Food drives are popular during the holiday season, but the best way to help local food banks may be providing cash. That’s because a sizable portion of donated food must be thrown out due to high salt content, expiration date, or poor nutritional value. There are exceptions. Mother Nature Network suggests that canned beans, dry […]

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