I just finished the Contemporary Issues study guide for my book. Within this guide, that presents the views of theologians on a variety of issues we face today, I made the point that Christians don’t often volunteer or serve the needy in their communities for lack of knowledge about what needs to be done.
I know this is the case for myself. While living in Doylestown, PA I really didn’t know what charities there were and didn’t know how to find them. That’s not an excuse though. I should have taken some initiative to find them. But nevertheless, I make my point that charities, for the visibility they think they have, can be overlooked in a community.
It is my own conviction that the nonprofit sector is one area where Christians can and should focus a lot of time, energy, and resources. Hours of program development and set up dollars can be saved by simply partnering with nonprofit organizations already serving in the key areas of a community. If there is no nonprofit to meet a particular need, then the church can step in to fill that gap. For the most part though, we do not need to reinvent the wheel.
Having said all of that, I was introduced to a great organization that has set up a site where Christians can find volunteering opportunities: www.christianvolunteering.org. The majority of these are located in cities, but many nonprofit organizations need volunteers who can help with stuff like web site development, and so a country yahoo like myself could very easily serve a homeless shelter in NY, NY … that is, if I had any web design skillz. Sadly, I do not.
Even if we sacrificed one day of shopping to serve with an organization, I’m sure we’ll have a much better time volunteering than fighting mall traffic.