Our home repairs ministry team has learned some valuable lessons in our service and also received some great advice from other churches. The old truism has proven accurate – experience really is a great teacher. We’ve taken some of that experience and synthesized it into a list of ministry do’s and don’ts. If you are just starting a home repairs ministry (especially), or even if your church has been at it for a while, we hope that these will help you avoid unnecessary pain!
First, a brief bit of background. Our home repairs ministry launched in 2002 as a part of Perimeter Church’s Community Outreach ministry. Our mission - to address internal church and local community home repair needs. In our 9 years of existence, we have helped hundreds of people through our many projects.
And we’ve had some miscues. For one project we had a high school group commit to bring a dozen or so students on a Saturday morning. We were renovating a house in the inner city of Atlanta. The Project Leader spent hours on Friday afternoon getting tools and materials loaded and ready and headed out very early on Saturday to meet them. About ten minutes after start time the group had still not shown. They never did show. We learned a powerful lesson that day. NEVER fail to contact the people or group close to the project date and make sure to get a projection on numbers. If you’ve never had that problem before, count your blessings and start calling your volunteers shortly before the project, whatever service or mercy ministry you are involved in. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Looking back, it was in some ways a funny story. But there can be profound spiritual repercussions to a bad service experience. Remember, we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ when we go to serve a client. If the client is not a believer, our outreach could actually have the opposite effect and sour their receptivity to the gospel! Despite the best and purest intentions, doing the wrong thing, or not doing the right thing, can also potentially lead to embarrassment, disgruntled volunteers and (shudder) legal issues. By putting safeguards and processes in place you can make your ministry more effective, fruitful and impactful. In addition, your volunteers will enjoy their work and be more likely to stay with the ministry.
So, in the spirit of making your community outreach and home repairs projects more fruitful, we present the following list of 5 key do’s and don’ts. While not an all-encompassing guide, I hope that these will help make your ministry more effective.
1. Don’t assume the homeowner knows what the plan is. Sit down with the homeowner and review the Scope of Work that your group will be focusing on. Have the homeowner sign the “Scope of Work” agreement.
Having an agreed-upon, thorough Scope of Work with the homeowner helps establish accountability and sets expectations. Because the homeowner knows what to expect you significantly reduce the risk of potential frustration and a bad witness.
2. Don’t underestimate the cost of repairs.
This is especially critical as your funding could be coming from an external source, including the homeowner. It is much better to overestimate what you need than underestimate. A home repairs ministry should have contingency plans when a repair has increased costs.
3. Do include the homeowner in any decision-making that may arise.
This affirms the dignity of the homeowner and that the property is his/hers. Changes to a home can get emotional, so when in doubt, ask.
4. Do repairs while the homeowner is present.
Again, show respect for the homeowner and protect yourself from unfair accusations by making sure that the homeowner is aware of all work being done.
5. Do connect your efforts with other local groups already doing home repair.
Amplify your ministry impact and display unity in the body of Christ by teaming with other church ministries on repair jobs. Or, as Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us “…a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
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