Work for and with people in need
The social work of the church is called diaconia, which is a Greek word that means "service". The way the Church meets and serves people is inspired by how Jesus met and served people, as described in the Bible. Jesus cared for the sick, the hungry, the poor, the spiritually thirsty and the outcasts of society. He did not condemn them but listened to them and helped those who asked for help. And he taught people to follow his example.
As Christians, we believe that all human beings have been created in the image of God and therefore are worthy of help. Those who need help in a particular situation and those who help are equally worthy of love, respect and care.
The social work of the parish church
Many churches are involved in various types of social work. In some cases, they mainly contribute economically to activities in the area where they are located. In other cases, they are the main actors and organisers. Often they cooperate with other locally based institutions or organisations. Types of work include free meal services, summer camps for socially vulnerable families, cross-cultural work, networks for people who are lonely or who want to work through the loss of a loved one, Christmas celebrations or regular visits to elderly or sick.
Social work at a national level
At a national level, a number of voluntary organisations carry out work among the disabled or socially excluded, such as drug addicts, prostitutes, alcoholics, homeless people and those without means. They often work in close association with the local parish church. However, they are independent of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Their economic support comes from voluntary and public contributions as well as from government subsidies for specific types of social work. The voluntary organisations employ staff but a great part of their activities is based on voluntary work. Shelters, cafés and second-hand shops are among the types of work that the organisations do.
If you need help or want to help
If you need help or know someone who does, you can contact your local church and ask for advice on how to find the help needed. It is part of the pastor's job and training to be available for counselling. This means that you can talk to a pastor if you have a problem or if you have encountered a difficult situation that you need to talk through with somebody. Pastors are required to respect confidentiality: What you talk to the pastor about will not be relayed in any way to anyone. Find your church here.
If you want to be a volunteer in your church, you can also ask the pastor or another employee in the church for advice on where and how to get involved. Another option is to contact one of the national voluntary organisations. See the list of the links on this page.