The constant struggle we have at Impact! Church is whether we are giving homeless folks a hand up or a hand out. One helps a person temporarily ease their struggle along their journey to self sufficiency and the other just perpetuates selfishness, laziness and in certain cases furthers addiction. It is a tough call that – I will admit – we have not mastered yet. It involves of process of establishing a relationship with a person needing assistance, assessing if they are truly trying to better themselves and discerning if they are just “playing us” to get a “free ride”. The last thing we want to do is provide life services to someone to enable their addiction. The other thing we want to avoid is to reinforce the “hand out” lifestyle – a life where all they know how to do is ask people for things instead of work for them. Constantly allowing people to avoid self-sufficiency not only contradicts sound Biblical doctrine, but also prolongs the person’s continued homelessness.
Those that give have to set limits because those that take will not.
One of the hardest aspects of helping folks in need is limiting generosity. Over the past year and a half we have learned – the hard way – that those that give have to set limits because those that take will not. We will never let a person in need starve to death or freeze to death, but that does not mean we have to respond every time they ask for something. Constantly “handing out” eventually leads to the person in need constantly coming back playing on emotions, using manipulation tactics or sometimes outright temper tantrums to gain what they are unwilling to earn. Constant hand outs only help to promote this infant-like behavior and does nothing to encourage the person to work toward self-sufficiency. That is not to say we do not help people those that only want a hand out instead of a hand up – but it is limited and under certain conditions. Generosity is good a thing, but so is limits if you really truly want to hep people.
Over the past year we have worked to create document that defines our purpose and policy for helping those in need. It is called our Homeless Assistance Policy and you can download it for free at our sister site HomelessChurch.tv by clicking the link below. If you have any questions about our policies or procedures in helping those in need, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .