By Pastor Curt Gibson, Associate Director LACF
After hearing Pastor Waybright’s recent sermon series on time, talent and treasure, I am compelled to share the principles that we at Lake Avenue Community Foundation practice when we give to others. As Pastor Waybright unpacked how Christians are to view themselves as stewards of the blessings God has given us, I realized that there are clear principles from scripture about how LACF is to engage and serve families in our community.
In II Thessalonians 3:10, the apostle Paul stated, “for even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘anyone who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’” In his book, Giving Wisely, Jonathan Martin describes this principle well, “perhaps the most de-humanizing thing you can do to a person is take away his need to work.”
Years ago when I began working with low-income families, I had the privilege of listening to an interview with Christian Community Development Association board member Bob Lupton. I gleaned from his interview three concepts to use as a basis for making decisions as I engage with at-risk youth and low-income children and families, which are:
- Don’t give anything away for free
- Don’t do anything for someone they can do for themselves
- When you practice charity, don’t do it in a way that robs a person of their dignity
LACF strives to put this theology of work into practice as we roll out our programs in the community. A few examples of this would be …
- LACF parents pay a small registration fee to enroll in our after-school program. In addition, the participating family is given a minimum number of volunteer hours they must serve (many exceed the minimum). If you were to drive by Villa 500 and see someone mowing the lawn or bringing in snacks, it more than likely would be a parent of a student in our program.
- In order for a student to participate in a trip with us, we’ve decided that the first trip is a gift so that they can just come and see what we’re about. For participation in all future trips, students must do community service hours and pay a portion of the trip tuition; the investment increases with each trip.
Matthew 25:40 says “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”. When I read this scripture through the lens of these three principles, my desire for programs is that we work toward developing families to be self-sustaining, and giving back to us so that we all experience mutuality. Together we are creating the Beloved Community. So when you give to the Foundation (financially or through your skills and time), understand how thoughtfully and prayerfully we utilize your gifts in both relief and development work.