By Mark Snipes, CBFVA Missions Coordinator

In Part 1 of this blog I talked about giving dignity and choice back to those we serve. You can find it on the CBFVA Blog.

Today I want to think through the next step in missional faithfulness in light of understand the need to give back dignity and choice to those we serve. To begin, I want to share a story about a church doing amazing work in its community.

Three times a week, business people, homeless patrons and everyone in between pile into the fellowship Hall of Fredericksburg Baptist Church for lunch. When you enter you are invited to sit down, pick from a select menu and receive an amazing hot meal. The catch, the meal is prepared by up to four homeless cooks, led by a certified chef, who are in a four-week program that will lead to a certificate that will help with employment.

The traditional mission model mostly consists of the church giving things away to the poor in our communities. For the last few decades that church has become very efficient at helping meet immediate needs. However, as books like Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts has shown us, the church has unintentionally created a system of dependency.

While giving to the poor is still part of the churches mandate perhaps it is time we find ways to partner with businesses within our community to help the poor and vulnerable gain skills to become employed.

What if your food pantry or food co-op was administered by a patron of the program? This responsibility could give one of your patrons both work experience and a reference for employment. What if when there are minor repairs needed in the church you invited a patron to come learn from a licensed handyman? In other words how can your church be creative in collaborating and partnering to match patrons of you mission’s initiatives with people in your church or community that can teach your patrons employable skills.

If we are going to take on the problem of dependency head on, the church is going to have to be creative and even more relational than before.