Culture > Q&A

Thinking locally

"Thinking locally" Continued...

Issue: "Tour d'America," June 18, 2011

Many young Christians have told me that they wish there were more "transparency" among members of the older generation. How should churches encourage the long-term married to talk frankly about the ups and downs of marriage? Some churches partner recently engaged couples with married couples in the congregation and encourage them to share meals and spend time together in other ways. This provides a context in which engaged couples can ask honest questions about marriage and parenting. They also can learn a lot just by observing the daily rhythms and challenges of married household life with an eye toward their own future.

Listen to Marvin Olasky's complete interview with Ryan Messmore.

A personal approach

From "Does Advocating Limited Government Mean Abandoning the Poor," a paper by Ryan Messmore published last month:

Many people either have no family to support them or have needs that are so severe that they overwhelm a single family unit. In these cases, people require the help of larger institutions that can bring more resources to bear without losing the personal approach that makes families so effective. In this way, churches and ministries can play important roles in combating poverty.

Like families, local congregations are well equipped to cultivate and restore the foundational relationships of life. Churches and ministries provide personalized help. They can connect those in need with others who understand the problem, can offer innovative solutions, and can observe the direct effects of their efforts. If they find that their approaches are not effective, local ministries can quickly change course and use different approaches as necessary.

Local congregations can address a wide range of emotional, spiritual, social, material, and financial needs. Beyond providing just money or food, they can offer accountability, discipline, modeling, and a sense of belonging in a supportive community. Similar to families, religious communities and ministries can also address problems at the level of the human heart, the level at which change is often needed to overcome the broken relationships and patterns of behavior that trap individuals in poverty. By pointing people to a source of meaning and purpose in life, these faith-based institutions can foster hope, strength, and perseverance in the face of difficulties.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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