Blessed Are the Jobless: How Ministries Aid the Unemployed
Image: Gary Fong / Genesis Photos

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped in late 2011, but the decrease was misleading. The U.S. Department of Labor didn't count more than 1.1 million jobless people who were classified as "discouraged workers": those who were willing and able to work but did not seek employment during the previous 30 days. Such discouragement has many roots. Their employers might have eliminated jobs due to belt-tightening or moved jobs overseas to cut labor costs.

Research shows that discouragement often grows the longer a worker is unemployed. Such individuals begin to spend less time each month looking for a new job. Dan Coffey, an outplacement expert who previously led the jobless ministry at Christ Church in Oakbrook, Illinois, said, "We fail to realize there is a grieving process involved—denial, anger, bargaining, acceptance. People who go through unemployment need to go through that." Job loss is considered one of the top 10 most stressful life events.

The needs of the discouraged worker are complex—which is where local churches can step in. "The church has a unique and wonderful role to play. The church provides spirituality and emotional support that can cut through the anxiety and the depression and give people hope," said Steve Murata, a leader of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church's Career Actions Ministry (CAM). Unlike secular agencies, the church can help people see their true worth in Christ, give them a new sense of purpose for their work lives, and re-energize them for the job search process.

Pastor Todd Augustine oversees College Church's career ministry in Wheaton, Illinois. He said that during long-term unemployment, people want to see immediate results after attending ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this IssueHow Bethany Hoang Was Wired for Justice
How Bethany Hoang Was Wired for Justice Subscriber Access Only
The director of IJM Institute for International Justice Mission shines the spotlight on modern-day slavery.
RecommendedTragic Church Bus Crash Ends Student Mission Trip Before It Can Start
Tragic Church Bus Crash Ends Student Mission Trip Before It Can Start
Accident kills teen girl from Alabama megachurch who felt God’s call to Botswana.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Blessed Are the Jobless: How Ministries Aid the Unemployed
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.