The church, as described in the New Testament, is limited to what it can financially support although individuals are not limited to what they can support from their finances. For example, individuals can financially support any widow they choose, whereas the church is limited to providing regular support only to faithful widows with demonstrated lives of service and no other family means of support (1 Timothy 5:9-16). The church was “not to be burdened” with responsibilities that belonged to others. The limits to what the church can use its funds for does not limit the effectiveness individual Christians can exercise in God’s service.
Individuals can make a great impact because the giver is closer to, generally engaged with, those in need. An individual who has a special interest in a particular need will continue to be involved in relieving the need while others are invested in relieving other needs. Individual Christians do countless good work to those around them and people in far off places. I know several businessmen who spend time in foreign lands and working with certain needs that few outside of their circle of associates know about.
Instead of complaining that important work will not get done unless the government or church sets up and funds organizations, certain individuals have already seen the needs and worked to solve the problems they identified. Some work on these problems themselves or with groups of likeminded individuals. In some cases they have formed organizations to focus on the need. Here are some organizations that are run by individuals and do not receive money from churches to accomplish their work.
1. 1213 (www.1213online.org) 1213 provides support to volunteers by assisting with physical needs of suffering Christians while the volunteer encourages the spiritual support of the person or family undergoing the trial. As their website says, “Our mission is not to replace nor supplement the work of the local church, but instead to provide assistance to servants that may not have resources to aid people in need. 1213 will establish a network of volunteers across the country, and eventually around the world, that are embedded in their local communities and ready to serve when needs arise. Funding of this will come from individuals and no contributions will be accepted from churches.”
2. Sacred Selections (www.sacredselections.org) Their website says the purpose of Sacred Selections is to “Sacred Selections is committed to providing the financial means of bringing together the need for and the longing to give love, through the process of adoption.” They are fighting the battle against abortion by financially helping babies find families. I have heard many wonderful things about this organization and the work they are doing to help others.
3. Open Hearts Helping Hands (http://www.openheartshelpinghands.com/index.html) Run by volunteers and receiving no money from any churches, this organization helps Christians in Zimbabwe to relieve various needs in addition to hunger. For the churches that want to help, they will provide direction so the church can meet the need directly but will not act on the church’s behalf.
4. Florida College Camps There are many hundreds of individuals who volunteer thousands of hours to provide fun and spiritual growth for many young people during camps during the summer and winter. There are many camps associated with the Florida College booster clubs throughout the US where kids can have fun in a wholesome and modest atmosphere. Some camps, such at the Alabama Camp, have winter camps as well. You can find more info a the Florida College Camps web page.
5. Other camps are run by brethren such as Rustic Youth Camp are able to provide fun, education, and most importantly, spiritual growth opportunities. They not only provide general summer and winter camps but also special leadership camps for young men and the GEMS camp for young ladies. These camps are sustained with camp fees, private contributions and donations, and countless volunteer hours.
6. Some brethren have visions of providing a secular education combined with a spiritual education for the complete development of young people. Schools such as Athens Bible School were formed to, as their vision states, “…to provide each student with a quality education in a Christian atmosphere by working with the home and family to foster the complete and harmonious development of the whole person: spiritually, mentally, physically, and socially.” I have known many ABS graduates over the years who appreciate the smaller school environment and the religious education they received.
7. There are also schools, such as Florida College Academy that were formed to provide a quality education taught in the context of a God-centered life. Schools like Athens Bible School and Florida College Academy are staffed with highly qualified educators who love God and the children they educate.
8. Florida College (www.floridacollege.edu) I am biased to recommend this fine accredited liberal arts college in a suburb of Tampa, FL that offers two and four year programs because I attended there for two years. It has a great selection of Bible classes, morning devotions, and a faculty and staff comprised of Christians. Their focus is on providing a quality education in a Christian atmosphere without taking contributions from churches. From the beginning it has been funded with individual contributions and tuition.
Individuals able to do some amazing things to the glory of God in the lives they touch whether alone or in joint effort with other like-minded people. These examples of individuals working together demonstrate the variety of things that can be accomplished to make this world a better place without the need to solicit church funds.