There seems to be something of a fad for churches to be getting involved in establishing food banks. Here are a few thoughts;
- Is this just a kind of activity where we are simply placating our consciences? We realise there is need in our community and so we open a food bank. People come in and we distribute and we think we have been awfully kind.
- How do we know that those who come in really have need? Are we really helping those who are the most needy?
- How many people in this country are really in need of food? I do not want to be harsh here, but the definition of poverty seems to set the bar for poverty very high. It is a curious paradox that one of the major health issues in this country is obesity and at the same time we are setting up these food banks to give away food.
- Are we really helping people by giving them food? I know the benefits system is becoming stricter and therefore budgets are tighter. However, it seems to me that what people mainly need is training in financial management and not more food. Learning how to “cut your garment according to your cloth”, as my mother would have, said seems to be a far more constructive thing that we could contribute.
- Are we really helping people come to Christ through these ministries? So many people are experts at playing the system even, dare I say, experts at exploiting nice Christians.These posts here and here by Mez McConnell are worth looking at in this context.
Altogether, let’s be careful in how we operate mercy ministry activities.