It is often the assumption of those of various perspectives that no one is doing anything to help the poor, as though there is some large vacuum of assistance for the poor that must be filled. However, that is simply not the case. Oftentimes the church creates a plurality of programs that all attempt to handle a single problem, but no one is working to partner with one another, creating redundancy.
This post is not that long because this idea is simple not that complicated. We as the church need to take a little time to figure out who is doing what before jumping in blindly with both feet. Perhaps some one already has a program or someone already has an effort that is reaping some success.
Several years ago I met with someone from Lutheran Social Services about caring for the elderly. I asked if such care was needed in our area of Wisconsin and the answer surprised me. The woman told me that the last thing that was needed was more people providing programs. There were already enough programs to go around and another program would simply dilute the already limited resources and elderly senior citizens even more. She advised that if a church really wanted to care for the elderly, they should partner with an existing organization.
The same is true of the poor. As we look around and find a need, we also need to see if someone is already working on that need. The last thing we need is redundancy. There is simply too much work to be done to duplicate efforts in such a small area. Instead, as the church personalizes its response to the needs of the individuals, it also needs to partner with those who are already working, those who may understand the problems and solutions better, and those may already have that personalized connection.