The church can build up and train people with skills to lead and teach church members. In the same way, members may be trained in practical skills, such as in health, water and sanitation, literacy, agriculture or engineering.
When a church wants to reach out and be of practical help to the poor, it may lack knowledge and understanding of particular issues. Approaches can also change over time so new learning and understanding may be needed. Mistakes can be made. This is why so many churches leave ‘development work’ to the ‘experts’ – either in local organisations or in Church Development departments. However, churches are not setting themselves up in competition to prove they can do better. Churches can instead work alongside others, so that more people will benefit.
When considering any kind of development work, always ask skilled and experienced people first for their advice. Draw on the experience of government workers and NGO staff as well as Christian workers. Learn about what they are doing – and also what they are unable to do. Remember that the church is made up of many members, each of whom can reach out into the community in a unique way. Church members can share their faith through practical caring within their community, helping to change attitudes. Sometimes this can then open the way for other organisations to carry out other skilled work.