Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Organised chuch programs

Over at Alan Knox's blog 'The Assembling of the Church' (where he blogs on ecclesiology) there is a post explaining his indifference to church "programs". This is of interest to me because Jehovah's Witnesses are commonly asked why they do not have organised programs to feed the poor, or to run hospitals, etc. It is true that we do not. What we are recognised for though is being the first to arrive on the scene when an emergency occurs. When Hurricane Katrina occured, while the Red Cross and American government fumbled under the weight of bureaucracy, Jehovah's Witnesses managed to get into the New Orleans area and begin helping out. When a Jehovah's Witness loses their house in a natural disaster, a crew of brothers and sisters turn up and fix or rebuild their house, sometimes within a weekend.

Alan's comments sum up my thoughts on the matter:

For example, if a family's house is destroyed by fire, an organized program to help them with money, food, accommodations, etc. would be very beneficial. In this case, the "benevolence" program has a specific purpose: to help the church show kindness and to serve this family who is in need. When the need is met, then the program would stop. What usually happens, though, is that this "benevolence" program is continued after the need is met. Thus, we feel a need to continue to staff and maintain a "benevolence" committee or program which has no specific goal, other than show benevolence, which is the requirement of all believers, not just those in this program. The program becomes the goal, instead of the means to meeting a goal.
Check out his post to read more of what he says on the matter.

1 comment:

tom sheepandgoats said...

Argueably, Jehovah's Witnesses contribute to the social welfare in three ways. One is the disaster relief you mentioned.

Two... is the provision for literacy instruction in the Theocratic Ministry School. It is insignificant in Western lands, but in the third world where education is slipshod or even nonexistant, it has taught many persons to read, and various gov'ts have praised it.

Three....is the health education and public service information that appears regularly in the Awake. (though that magazine is not published as frequently as it once was) Again, this is insignificant in the West, but a big deal in the third world, where people don't have money and so the commercial system doesn't bother with them much. Awake, however,is carried directly to the people, no matter what their circumstances.