Why Do Churches Not Help?

Updated on July 22, 2013
R.D. asks from Tuckerton, NJ
32 answers

Hello I am a person of faith trying to figure out why churches do not help when help is needed I have asked all local churches for help with a situation I am in with getting my daughter home from rehab and none will help me it is very upsetting i always thought they were there to help in time of need.

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So What Happened?

I was asking the churches for a gas card to pick her up she spent four months there and is due to be released nowhere would help

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answers from Dallas on

Because churches have only so much money. I assume you are shopping your story around to churches looking for help? Do you know how many people like this, they get in one day. If they have to choose between a woman they know nothing about, whose daughter is supposedly getting out of rehab...to feeding people, providing healthcare, homeless services, and keeping their lights on and doors open...what sounds more logical to you.

Churches are there to help people, yes. However, they are not Santa. You can't just ask and expect they will help you. Churches get burned by people with stories all the time. Everyone always needs something. They have to use common sense. What you are asking for, is simply not a basic need.

24 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

What is your expectation?

You said you have been to all local churches... Well, that is a red flag to me. Do you not go to church regularly and have a church family?

Churches have to be careful about who they help, how and why because there are those out there who fully take advantage of the church and then the church ends up with limited resources for their own members. It is sad but that is what it looks like when someone is soliciting all churches for help. The higher ups of churches do talk to each other and are much more cautious of just helping everyone who knocks on the door.

What kind of help are you asking for? What are YOU willing to do to get that help... Volunteer in the church by donating your time because you are thankful they help you OR do you just want them to write a check to you or something to that effect and you go away and have nothing to do with them.

Churches do help a LOT in the community but they are not there to bail people out of a jam, etc. They are more then willing to help those in need who are demonstrating that they are trying their best to help themselves.


Per your SWH... You want $$. So what are YOU doing to help your situation???

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you are a long time faithful member and they can help you, they will. If you just show up with your hand out, chances are they have their own to care for.
They will pray for you. They will embrace you. But they will not financially support you. Most churches are barely bringing in enough money to keep the lights on.
Talk with social services and ask them where you can get help.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Okay am I reading this wrong? Are you asking why a church, who has never seen you before, you have never been a part of their community, they have no reason to believe you will ever be a part of their community, won't help you?

If that is the case, because you aren't a part of their community! Most parishes/church communities are already financially stretched taking care of their own community. Why would you think they would just give you free help, take away from their own, just because you are in need?

If you are a person of faith, what has your own church community said to you?
I just got a flower and noticed your what happened. So you called up every church asking for a handout. They don't do that.

I know I wasn't the only one asking about what church you belonged to. You didn't answer, that speaks volumes. You seem to need a community but you seem unable to be a part of a community. You have been here since January asking for help, six questions, asking for help. In those six months you have never answered a single question. You can't even seem to bother being a part of an online community yet you expect everyone to help you, give you.

I am saying this to be helpful. Start giving, your time, your talents, be a part of a community. Then when you are at need there will be people to hold you up, they will be the people you held up in the past.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

First of all, you say "churches" - are you a member of ALL these churches? They usually will help members in certain situations, but his is not a situation I would think they'd want to get involved with. Not sure exactly what you would want them to do.

I'm sure they can refer you to agencies that would help, but I would think that would be the extent of their "help."

Good luck!!

p.s. Seriously, what have you got against punctuation??????

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

How do you expect the church to help exactly? With food? Money? Spiritual counseling? Churches these days are strapped for cash, like everyone else, and rely on donations from others themselves. Is there any church in particular that you have been active in, or are just expecting help because "it's a church and that is what they are supposed to do?"

Are you just expecting some kind of hand-out? Are there other resources you can turn to for assistance? Can the rehab facility your daughter has been at help in any way?

Remember, "God helps those who help themselves." Not trying to sound harsh here, but what have to tried to figure out on your own?

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Is this a church you regularly attend?
Or are you just showing up at their door and asking for help?

What kind of help are you asking for?

Things have been really bad for ALL organizations over the last 6 years - a lot of strain has been put on for continuing requests for help/assistance - and the money coming in is not matching the needs of what is going out - so they have to monitor and research what is being needed.

The rehab center your daughter is in - drug or something else? Have you asked them for help? Asked them for resources on what organizations CAN help you?

If you are new to the church - yes - they will be circumspect - sorry - but there have been WWWAAAAAAYYYY too many people taking advantage of an already strapped system.

If you are a regular member? Maybe they have already exhausted their budget on you or your daughter in the past. I don't know.

God helps those who help themselves.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

There are always more people that need help than there are those with resources to provide help.
And there are always some people who'll be more than happy to accept freebies rather than go out and work for what they need for themselves.
You know the saying 'the Lord helps those who help themselves'?
I always thought that meant that while praying is a very fine thing, you need to get up off your knees every so often and make something happen to help yourself.
What does being 'a person of faith' mean to you?
You go to church regularly - they know you by name and you are part of the community and you give help to others as well as receive it when needed?
What sort of help do you feel you and your daughter need?
Shouldn't your daughter stay in rehab till she has the coping skills she needs to keep from slipping into her former behavior?

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

In these economic times LOTS of people are struggling and churches are trying to help people who need basic stuff like food and clothing. Some people need help paying their electric bills so they can keep the air conditioners on and survive the hot summer. Paying for someone's traveling expenses doesn't qualify as a basic need.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Some churches still focus on charity and helping people, others do not. But they also don't just hand out money to everyone who says they need help (if that is what you are looking for, money for your child's trip home?). They help in other ways, like clothing drives and food drives ect.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

R., I am not sure what type of help that you are looking for. What kind of help is needed to release a person from rehab?
If you are talking about financial help, churches are not a for-profit money factory. The money that they have to help the needy tends to go to their own members, to people in shelters, etc - and their sources of funds, typically their own membership, are going through their own hard times of unemployment and are not able to donate - the people who used to donate are now receiving food stamps.
If you do not mean financial assistance, a church cannot intervene between a patient, their family and a care facility.
I do not know if you are the same person who in the past year has asked other questions about asking churches for financial help but no, churches are not there to assist every person who comes asking. Without knowing what you mean by "help" in getting your daughter home from rehab, we can't even make suggestions as to where to turn for help. We don't know what you need

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

If your daughter is in rehab, then I'm assuming she's there for a very good reason. And if the Church isn't helping you get her out of rehab, then I'm going to assume that there's a very good reason. I can only guess at what's going on... but if you're trying to get her out of the rehab program before treatment is completed and/or against doctor's orders and/or against court orders then the Church can't and shouldn't interfere in that.

Without any other details from you about your daughter, her age, the situation, or your relationship with your daughter and how she got into rehab it's going to be nearly impossible to give you any good advice.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

We have a local community resource center. It is heavily supported by our church as well as other churches and civic organizations. The center provides gas cards, rent, etc., for anyone in need. If the churches are unable to help you, perhaps they may know who can.

ETA: After reading the other answers, I'm surprised how many people are saying churches only help their own church members. Is that really how it works? Our church regularly helps people who come to our doors for help. We provide food, clothing, housing, furniture, and help find jobs for anyone - not just our own members. We are instructed to help our neighbors - all neighbors. Almost every mission and outreach I've been involved with has been for non-members and not an eye was batted.

ETA: Came back and read more responses. They actually make me sad to think churches will only help their own. And it makes me really proud of our own church. I know anyone can take communion in our church - baptized or not, member or not, methodist or not - which has always made me very proud. I don't believe the Lord's table should be selective. And now I see in this context that our church really is special. I hope you find the help you need.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Have you tried.... asking the Rehab, about resources to help you?
I mean, they are the Rehab center.... they MUST have a whole bunch of resources or info for its patients.
I doubt if they just send someone home, without... any type of information for them, when they are discharged from the center. And they must have "follow-up" appointments or other things, for the patient. Even for "transitioning" of the patient to home.

Churches are not social services.
Are you a member of that Church?
And, Churches do not have, professionally trained staff... to KNOW how to help a Rehab patient who is being sent home.

HOW do you want help for this?
People to assist you?
Food to feed her?
Supervision for her?
Someone to be home with her to help?
HOW, do you want help and what for?

Ask the Rehab center, for information. And where you can go.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It depends on the church's resources (financially, time-wise, personnel). My parish has several ministries, but none dedicated to an emergency situation with rehab. Another issue can be the time of year. In summer, the particular employees and/or volunteers who could help you may be on vacation at this time.
A few weeks ago, after Mass, a man approached my mother's priest and basically demanded food. Father went into the rectory and came out with a small plastic container in which there was a baked chicken breast, some rice, and some carrots. He handed the man the food and a $5. The man threw the food on the ground in disgust and left. Father swept it up. My mother mentioned the incident to the parish secretary a few days later. The woman became distressed. Father had given the man his own dinner and the only money he had because a few hours early, they had cleaned out the rectory shelves to feed a family whose food stamps had run out. The parish doesn't run a food pantry.
I say this because you may be asking churches not equipped to aid you. Just like not all doctors can perform heart transplants or brain surgery. Good luck to you and your family.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Unfortunately even the best, most faithful churches have limited resources. And most have already committed those resources to people and organizations in need. They may want to help you, but can't take away from other people in need who they've already promised to help.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

When's the last time you "helped" a church? That, my dear, should answer your question. If you helped a church with time, donations, and faithfulness, I'm certain they would be more then willing to help a member in need.

Edit: I say private message the poster below my response and find out what church she goes to. Then contact her church. They will be more then willing to help you. I see you're in Tuckerton, and Birdsboro appears to be an hour West of Philadelphia. If her church won't give it to you, maybe she will directly out of her weekly tithe, after all the money that her church uses to help anyone and everyone, comes directly from the generosity of the parishioners.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If you are asking for money, they can't necessarily help. They may not have it to give; or if they are a church with some money resources, they may be involved in other ministries and charities to which they have commitments of certain amounts each month so there is no excess for "discretionary funds."

You will have much more success getting help from a church that is not your own church if you ask them to help you locate the right city, county or state office that would handle your case, or if you ask them to help you locate a shelter or halfway house if that's what's needed. They will be glad to help you find resources. They also likely will respond positively to questions such as, "We don't have access to a car and my daughter needs to come home from across town, and a cab is something we can't afford. Could someone help us with one-time transportation, driving us from Rehab Building to home on XYZ street, on Aug. 2 in the morning only?" and so on. That's a concrete, specific and time-limited request that does not involve cash. Or if, for instance, your daughter is coming home but you lack things such as shampoo, extra sheets and towels etc. to move her comfortably into your own home, and can't afford to go out and get them yourself, you could discuss whether the church could do a one-time collection of those items for you. I hope you get the idea here -- be specific and limited in what you ask.

But asking for money is problematic. Even churches get scammed, all the time, and have no way to know if someone who requests money is going to use it for the stated purpose or for something else, and churches are required by their faith to be good and careful stewards of their money. If you need some bills paid, suggest that the church pay them directly to the organization that you owe -- payment directly to the utility company, for instance, to keep the lights on, but not cash directly to you. Those suggestions will make the church trust you more. But in the end, any church these days just may not have the extra resources to assist financially someone who comes out of the blue, unfortunately.

Be specific with requests; ask for help finding resources; and don't ask for money directly into your hand, and you are likelier to get help.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Personally, we give a lot of financial support to churches, and I don't know many churches that pass out free gas cards to non-members. Your story could be a total lie to them.

Typically churches donate in set ways, not individual needs. They give to food banks, teach English classes, sponsor free 12 step programs, etc.

If you are an active member in such groups, where you are committed to a relationship with God and healing your past or your ways, then I would imagine someone with authority would be able to provide some assistance in your time of need. But a pure stranger walking in off the street, an unknown community member, does not qualify for free hand outs typically.

Usually people who need immediate assistance, are already plugged in somehow.

What about taking a bus back from Rehab? What about asking friends or family for a ride?

The most our church will pass out to strangers walking in off the street is a pre-packed gallon size ziplock bag with bottled water, coupons to McDonald's, socks, chapstick, bus card, granola bar.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Did you call st. vincent depaul? they usually will help with things. but the short answer is they are strapped financially. churches do not have the attendence they once had. people no longer tithe the 10% of there income tht they used to. so because people do not attend / do not put cash in the basket at offering time / do not tithe each week the parishes / churches do not have the ready money they used to have. on top of that the need is a lot bigger than it used to be. I know at our parish we have a food pantry. we serve aproximately 200 families per week. sometimes many more but the 200 is the regular. we can't keep up. the government money is down and the factories and grocery stores that used to help don't as much as they used to as they are hurting also. its just a really rough time.

good luck to your daughter. you don't say where she has been in rehab at but is it possible that you could have her come home on a bus as opposed to you going after her and spending gas both ways?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i have the same questions everyone else has, what are you asking for, do you attend of the churches you are asking for help?
im going to add what if anything are you doing to help with the situation?

In this case our church, which i make a lot of these decisions for, probably would help with $20 i gas cards. We done something like this in the past. We help members and non-members. We have a limit which honestly is more flexibile then we like to pretend it is. But giving is down and we can't help as much as we like. We take a lot of people grocery shopping and cover a fair amount of electric bills.
It all boils down to how honest and real the caller seems. And how essential the request seems.
Is bringing someone from rehab to the same situation a good idea, the best thing for the recovering person?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Churches are struggling to pay their bills like everyone else.
Usually people within a congregation will pull together to help each other in times of need, but if resources are limited then there's only so much they can do. Often church members will have food and clothing drives, cook meals and offer child care, etc. but money is not as easily handed out.
They also have to be careful of people taking advantage of them. If you're not a member of their congregation but simply show up asking for a handout how are they supposed to know your story is true?
Just trying to get you to see it from their side.
I suggest you talk to your pastor and the members of your own congregation. Perhaps if no money is available someone can help arrange transportation for your daughter.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My experience of church congregations is that they are usually thoughtful about helping regularly attending parishioners. When I think "churches help", I think about the congregants helping other people with whom they have built relationships and community. It is often a group of people who help each other and who organize in committee to do good works. I compare it to a tight neighborhood, where people who know each other are willing to do favors when asked and to look out for each other, a "you get what you give" sort of situation.

Could you go on Craigslist and offer to trade some work for them to give you and your daughter a ride? If I was really stuck, that's something I would consider-- barter.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Many churches support organizations that help, but aren't in the business of evaluating individual needs. Talk to the rehab center and ask them for resources. It should be your daughter's responsibility. That's a big part of rehab to accept responsibility for your own actions and here is a good opportunity for her to do that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I guess it depends on what kind of help you're asking for. They are equipped to handle some routine needs but don't have the resources to do everything. I would think it also depends on whether or not you're a member - individual churches may concentrate their assistance on those who are actually members while larger relief organizations are better equipped to help anyone in need. Or it may be that there is a non-church entity who should be able to help you.

What specifically are you looking for?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Churches do help people immensely. You just have to find the right one that has the resources that you need to help with your situation. My own sister had a situation years ago, and her church couldn't help, but she found one that could. Sometimes it takes searching too. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

How far away is it? Maybe you can offer someone a trade for doing a job or service for them. Are you an excellent seamstress, someone who can really help others with organization, etc? Offer yourself out and people will help contribute to a gas card. Do you have a friend that would help you out?

One tank of gas should get you 300 miles and only cost $60-80 at most. I'm sure you can find a way to earn the money for that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

You DON'T have to be a member of a church to receive help from O. and I would be suspect if a church or church member that agrees with that concept.
You obviously NEED help.
I'm tired if the myth that poor people just don't work hard enough.
Many poor people work harder than wealthy people but earn far less.
O. thing I wanted to suggest was to ask the churches for transportation, not cash.
Or go to Alanon or Naranon and I'll bet you'd find help with transportation from a member.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

you might have better luck on craigslist.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

I haven't read your other answers yet but I'll offer my 2 cents. Churches DO help. At least I know my church would. I know of many times when a church member has been in need - financial or otherwise - and the church has helped out. This is done only after the situation is discussed privately among the deacons and Pastor.

Having said that - notice how I said CHURCH MEMBERS. Our church is a small community of about 100 people. Help is available to those of us who call this church home. We also run a food pantry that is available to members of the extended community (meaning, anyone nearby who shows up and needs food). If churches offered financial help to everyone who needed it, they would be inundated with requests - some legitimate, some not most likely.

Have you made any particular church your home church? If you started there, you might find help when needed. Best of luck to you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'm hoping the rehab can point you in a direction to receive help.

I do not know enough to answer you question about the particular churches you have asked. Many churches will help anyone they can, member or not, as long as a member vouches for them. But resources are truly tight. Perhaps they could find someone to drive your daughter.

And congratulations on her going to rehab. That's a big step towards her future. Praying for you both.


answers from Phoenix on

I am a member of a local church. Generally, churches can help some, but are not in a financial position to just hand out gas cards or cash to anyone who walks up to the door. They just financially do NOT have money to do this. However, if a church MEMBER needs financial help, the board usually checks into the situation and may approach another member who may be able to financially help out the other member. I volunteer at our churches food pantry and weekly we help between 20-25 families with free food. Anyone in the community can come and get food if they are having a hard time.

I'm sorry you feel disappointed by this but it isn't realistic to think you can just walk into a church and they are obligated to hand you money. It just doesn't work like that. Churches "help" in many, many ways but they don't throw money out the door to anyone who asks. Good luck.

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