"Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God." (1 Tim. 5:3-4). While the Church's version of "health care" looks nothing like the Senate's or House's massive trillion dollar version, its coverage is universal, and "opting out" is a non-negotiable. Note the terms of the "policy:"

The "insurer" or local assembly is responsible for the care of its members, and the "insureds" or members are responsible for the work of the local assembly. It's a symbiotic relationship -- not a welfare society. While partiality of care is forbidden (5:21), discrimination based on testimony isn't and always comes before need. Widows must meet certain character qualifications (5:9-11), and those who minister should be paid for their labors (5:17). If one doesn't work, he doesn't eat (2 Thess. 3:10); and if one can't work, his family is to make sure he eats, not the Church (5:3-4,8).

Secondly, while care from the assembly is discretionary, work done by the members isn't. All ministry is grace-driven as all ministers are unprofitable servants laboring for God alone (Lk. 17:10). To work for a "paycheck" or to be put on the food list when other options are available is unacceptable and damaging to the reputation of Christ. This is why trades for ministers and families for the needy are necessary in recessionary times.

Thirdly, richer assemblies should consider helping asset-strapped poorer assemblies meet their human obligations. Paul took up a collection among the Gentile churches to help the poorer struggling church in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8-9). Churches that "partner" together through charitable ties will also have less competition among themselves as well.

Lastly, a church going into debt forces an obligation on its members that's antithetical to ministering with what it has, not with what it doesn't have (2 Cor. 8:12). Better to wait for God's provision, timing and direction than to tie up money that denies ministerial and charitable needs. What God initiates He sponsors.

God puts His light in lampstands--churches that should reveal the love and light of Jesus Christ--and an unbalanced lampstand is going to be hard-pressed to shine.

~Mark LaCour