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October 30, 2009

Ways to Help the Unemployed at Your Church

Practical steps for churches to reach the unemployed--and the underemployed.


The ABC News affiliate serving the Rochester, Minnesota, area posted a piece earlier this week highlighting the efforts of some local churches to help the unemployed. The article makes an interesting point about the challenges presented by unemployment to an area, as well as underemployment--the number of workers who take part-time or low-paying jobs to help make ends meet as they seek permanent employment in their careers of choice.

I'm guessing the never-ending stream of daily and weekly media reports about unemployment probably have turned the issue into the equivalent of static in your eyes and ears, as it has for me. It's vital we not forget the need to administer outreach programs to people in our congregations and communities right now.

In the July/August 2009 issue of Your Church, we covered the multiple ways churches can serve as the unemployment rate reaches 10 percent (or more) around the country. You can find the article here, and an accompanying box listing the efforts of more than a dozen churches here.

Matt Branaugh is director of editorial for Christianity Today International's Administration Team. He also is editor of Your Church, a magazine that covers legal, financial, administrative, facility, and safety issues for church leaders, and TheYourChurchBlog.com.

Related Tags: community, outreach, relief, unemployment


What about when the church is the cause of the unemployment--dismissing a 5-year pastoral staff member without any warning or process? Without any complaints about fulfilling the job description. One of the churches that has not experienced any drop in income. This is a real case--a situation that should embarrass the HR office of a secular employer, much less a church. Where does that person go for help?

Mae--That sounds like a really difficult situation. At first glance, it would seem there had to be something going on behind the scenes that led to this decision. Without knowing all of the facts, we can't say for certain. In terms of how a church should approach a dismissal, here are some articles we've published:

When Layoffs Loom: Letting Church Staff Go Safely, Legally--and With Grace http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/2009/mayjun/whenlayoffsloom.html

Are You Prepared to Dismiss Someone? (a checklist) http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/2009/mayjun/areyouprepared.html

Dismissing Employees and Volunteers http://www.churchsafety.com/topics/staff/employees/dismissemployeesvolunteers

If it's the sense of this individual who was let go that an inappropriate process was used to let them go, they should consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law.

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