In its bulletin each week, an Illinois church advises "When to Call the Church Office." According to the list, in addition to the usual life passages of births, illnesses, and death, members should notify the ministry team of "termination of employment."

Even in well-heeled congregations, there is much talk today about faltering markets, tight wallets, and job cuts. Now is the time to consider the vital role of pastoral ministry to families facing hard times.

What can you do?

Say what everybody's already thinking.

Pray in worship services about financial markets and the effects of joblessness. Hearing the issues addressed publicly will help reticent people seek assistance they never dreamed they would need. Compile and post a list of compassion services available in your community.

Look at money from a new angle.

Beyond the annual appeal to pledge the budget, this is a good time to preach on money—especially the lack of it. Take a new look at God's concern for the poor. For people who ...

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