Churches in the Economic Crisis … Part 1

(This is the first of at least two reflections on the role local churches might play in the economic crisis.)
Nobody knows how bad it will be or how long it will last. Nobody knows if other problems will arise – terrorist attacks, wars, rumors of wars, natural disasters – that will intensify the crisis. But most of my friends who know more about economics than I do tell me that they think the current economic downturn is going to be bad, and long, and we need to prepare for a rough go.
Churches, of course, are already feeling the crunch. Giving is already becoming a problem for many churches, as it is for many nonprofits in general. But I think the economic crisis also provides a lot of opportunities for churches to serve their communities. Here are some ideas that have been arising in my mind …
1. How about organizing neighborhood care networks? A family from your church could become the hub for creating a network where needy people their neighborhood can get help. What would it mean for people from your faith community to go door to door in their neighborhoods, not to proselytize, but to give out a flyer letting neighbors know that there’s a church in the area offering food, counseling, support groups, etc?
2. How about inviting unemployed people to gather at your church at a certain time, and providing a facilitator to help them a) process their grief at losing their job, b) provide mutual support, c) imagine ways to get retrained or create new work opportunities, or d) join together in volunteer service projects to do good to others and avoid sitting at home watching game shows and soap operas every day?