NEED MEETING & Examples of Need-based Church Programs from Maslow’s Hierarchy

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/7/15.

When undertaking need-based outreach, leaders often have trouble getting their heads around the idea of “what kinds of needs” should be addressed. One student put it this way:

“A few years ago the local community needed an area of the county ditch cleaned up.  There was a lot of debris and junk in the water way that needed cleaned out and basically a lot of manual labor was needed.  Our church volunteered to do it and we ended up cleaning out the ditch for the county.  Is that more what you’re saying?”

First, let me say the most critical need of all humankind is a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father which can only be brought about by a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.  In addition in today’s skeptical environment, we sometimes need to demonstrate God’s care (and our care) for non-churchgoers beforehand by meeting their needs in the name of Christ even before they are Christians.  This demonstrates to them that they have a “good” and “loving” Heavenly Father, who sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit and who we (as followers of Christ) represent.

But what are the needs people have, that sometimes need to be met before salvation?

Cleaning out a ditch might be a need, but outreach may be more effective if it is meeting “pressing” needs that are pulling people to their need for reconciliation with their Heavenly Father.  Psychologist Abraham Maslow helped visualize this in a pyramid (see the attached pages below).

So, to help you visualize and deploy programs that meet the felt needs (that usually must be met before a person is ready to focus on reconciliation with their Heavenly Father), I have attached with permission a couple pages illustrating this from Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey, see pages 19-26 in this draft version (footnotes for your citations are in the published version).

Here you will find church programming ideas that can address the needs that non-churchgoers have and that prevent them from investigating their relationship with Christ.

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow + ideas 1

FIGURE ©Whitesel WAYPOINTS Maslow + ideas 2

Download the chapter and charts here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 16, 15, 14

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