Compassion, anxiety, bewilderment … these are just a few of the words that describe how church secretaries and other staff members feel about working with transients and others who come to the church seeking personal help. Often, church secretaries work alone at the church office and when confronted by a street person seeking money, they are caught between a desire to help and personal fear for their own safety.
Develop a Safe Response Plan
Helping the poor is central to the church's mission. But that does not mean that such help should be done thoughtlessly or without concern for the welfare and safety of those who work with the needy. To avoid problems, church staff members need training and guidance in responding to transients and to other individuals seeking help. Church leaders should take the initiative to see that their church has developed an adequate set of policies and procedures to respond to those who come to the church seeking assistance. Often, the secretary is at the church alone when these situations occur. Clearly, such scenarios require advanced planning.
- Define each staff member's role with respect to the church's ministry of caring for the needy. Clarify tasks such as interviewing, making referrals, giving vouchers, and following up.
- Establish procedures to enhance personal safety in responding to the needs of transients. As churches become an increasing target for theft, and the number of people seeking financial assistance increases, church staff members are becoming more concerned about safety issues.