“How can our church come help you out? Are there volunteer projects?”
He paused before answering. This tall, friendly pastor didn’t want to offend or to dismiss the offer of help. After all, there were a millions projects that needed to be done. His inner city church was short on resources and big on needs. Walls to be painted. Flyers to be handed out. Programs to be organized.
After a moment of thought, he spoke. “Volunteers coming, helping with projects. That’s good. But people around here, they need help. Projects are just, well, projects. But the people in this neighborhood need something more. They need someone to come alongside ’em and just help.”
For churches looking to invest resources in inner city neighborhoods, this isn’t a convenient answer. Getting a team together to paint a nursery, well, that can be done in a day and leaves the volunteers feeling happy and useful as they drive back to their suburban neighborhoods. But helping people? That’s hard. That’s messy. That’s time-consuming.
And as this insightful inner city pastor pointed out, that’s what is needed. Christians from affluent churches to roll up their sleeves and come work alongside the ministries that are under-resourced, under-staffed. They need to commit for weeks and months, not hours in order to truly help. Even then, results won’t likely be quick. But that’s okay. Long-term change requires long-term commitment.