Search
Close this search box.

A New Link to Hope for Your Church and City

A New Link to Hope for Your Church and City

It may seem strange that Meet The Need’s blog rarely mentions Meet The Need.  It’s not because there’s nothing to discuss.  In the dot-com era, our ministry envisioned and later built the first collaborative volunteer management, event management, and shared case management applications for churches and ministries.  Each of those types of systems eventually became crowded, thriving industries.  Over the past decade, we’ve also been national leaders in innovation around critical causes like hunger relief, homelessness, foster care, and ex-offender recidivism.  As impactful as our work has been, Meet The Need was never about developing poverty alleviation software applications.  That was always means to an end…

Meet The Need’s Mission

Since our founding 22 years ago, Meet The Need’s goal has been church revitalization and reform.  So that’s what we talk about on this blog.  Technology alone cannot change heart and minds.  In the early 2000s we often heard pastors say, “if we only had a way to find out the needs in the community and share them with our members”, and “build it and we will come”.  Yet we’ve seen churches increasingly use Meet The Need’s platforms to facilitate transactional rather than relational “compassion”, which typically does more harm than good.  Families in poverty need dignity, not dependence.  It’s demeaning when the “rich” swoop in to save the “poor”, offering “handouts” without seeking to understand, leverage, and augment their capabilities.  That arms-length approach makes church members feel good during the holiday season but perpetuates poverty the rest of the year.  The strength and duration of relationships determines the effectiveness of interventions.

No organizations are better positioned than churches to repair the broken relationships (with God, His creation, others, and ourselves) that keep families trapped in cycles of generational poverty.  Only a church can attend to the whole person (mind, body, spirit) and all four key relationships on a long-term basis by welcoming them into the church family.  Unfortunately, despite Jesus’ repeated commands to serve the materially poor and His example of leading with compassion, churches are no longer on the front lines of the war on poverty.  That break from Jesus’ prayer/care/share model, which began in the early 1900s with the failure of the Social Gospel movement and Great Reversal, has contributed to the Church’s steady decline in growth, impact, influence, and perception in recent decades.  Churches should be the lighthouse, first responder, and last line of defense for our culture.  Without reform, their light will continue to dim.  Restoring churches to their rightful place as a beacon of hope in a darkening society requires equipping and mobilizing them to demonstrate the love of Jesus through missional, transformational relationships with the “least” and “lost”.

Meet The Need has invested the past 5 ½ years working toward that critical objective.  For 15 years we watched event-oriented, transactional compassion fuel a precipitous decline in usage of our platforms following each Christmas.  In 2018 we assembled our team to brainstorm a year-round, relational solution to that problem.  Fast forward to last week as we celebrated the launch the application that emerged from those meetings.  Between 2018 and 2024 were countless miracles, partnerships, donations, design sessions, programming, and testing – as well as a beta and pilot with ministry partners in Roanoke, VA who are already seeing the value of Link2Hope.

Our Unveiling of Link2Hope

So we felt compelled to finally talk a little about Meet The Need in today’s blog post.  Link2Hope leverages the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide a proverbial “hand-up” by building sustainable circles of support around families, empowering them to plot their own course to a brighter future.  It offers those feeling isolated hope in our Savior and comfort in the knowledge they’re not alone.  It shows those not knowing where to turn more options so they don’t always approach the same individual, ministry or church for help.  It suggests resources with roadmaps to change lives, not just get through life.

Link2Hope revolutionizes poverty alleviation by digitizing the principles found in When Helping Hurts.  The Chalmers Center, who authored that book, walked alongside Meet The Need throughout the design and development process, ensuring we held to these non-negotiables:

  1. Dignity – Respect the inherent value and capabilities of those made in God’s image
  2. Reciprocity – Avoid perceptions of superiority through investments and exchanges
  3. Discipleship – Get beyond material needs to the pursuit of personal growth
  4. Advocacy – Equip mentors to help families navigate their pathways out of poverty
  5. Unity – Rally the entire community around love for our neighbors in Jesus’ name
  6. Engagement – Not make the goal time spent on the app, but live connections
  7. Personal – Customize to match individual interests, challenges, priorities, and goals

Each network, city, or group of organizations rallying around a cause will receive its own unique installation of Link2Hope.  “Cause groups” can brand and private label Link2Hope to look like their websites.  They can modify the user experience and onboarding process to suit their audiences.  They can load the database with all the churches and service providers within their circles of influence.  They can include any (and only those) articles, collateral, videos, and other resources they want the AI to recommend.  Unlike for-profit software vendors, Meet The Need provides all features of Link2Hope in every installation:

Connect

  • Potential assignment of a representative to guide and advocate for the family
  • Dedicated pages viewable by a family’s “inner circle” with updates, needs, and prayers
  • Referrals to participating local churches or connection to the family’s current church
  • Opportunity for those who feel isolated to speak with a local caring encourager
  • Invitations to family and friends to join a circle of support around a loved one

Grow

  • Recommended resources to educate and inspire users based on their circumstances
  • Rate, share, and favorite resources to inform the AI and improve recommendations
  • Tailored suggestions and searches for relevant local or national events or activities
  • Addition of resources (if approved by cause group) that users feel would help others
  • Read the Bible and receive suggested scripture verses appropriate for each user

Impact

  • View recommended service providers and search for those offering assistance needed
  • Connect, add, rate, share, and favorite service providers to refine the AI engine
  • Post limited number of non-monetary needs to targeted audiences (i.e. circles)
  • Lead advocates and low-income families down proven paths out of material poverty
  • Refer compassionate churches, ministries, or businesses (subject to admin approval)

Link2Hope tracks and reports each user’s Connect, Grow, and Impact progress to encourage taking the applicable next step.  The platform even enables individuals and organizations to set goals for “circle building”, personal growth, and community impact.

What Link2Hope Means for America’s Churches

Leading people toward Jesus is the vision of Link2Hope.  Surrounding families with loving support systems is its mission.  Achieving that vision and executing that mission requires putting churches at the center of Link2Hope’s model.  Churches were the center of town for 1900 years, where the destitute and lonely turned for help and hope.  Ministries, government, and businesses can all play an important role but only the church can foster lasting life transformation.  Therefore, Link2Hope points struggling families to local churches and activates churchgoers to join (or form) “circles” around those hurting in the congregation or community.

During the pandemic, churchgoers appeared unprepared to personify “church” when the buildings’ doors were closed, missing countless opportunities to comfort and care for fearful neighbors losing jobs, health, and hope.  Church is not a building or weekend event – it’s Christ-followers who take the Great Commandment and Great Commission seriously all week long among their neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends.

Link2Hope empowers each of us to love and serve between Sundays – and not by simply “checking the box” through seasonal “handouts” that humiliate those dependent on charity to make it through the day.  Instead, we #ReimagineCompassion by teaching and equipping the Church for the kind of year-round, relational kindness, mercy, and justice commanded in Scripture.  In our post-Christian, postmodern culture, it’s more important than ever for believers and churches to counteract and clearly contrast with the world’s highly conditional definitions of love and compassion.  Now is the time for Link2Hope…

It’s Your Turn…

Although Link2Hope has officially launched in one city, it will not be available for your network, city, or church until 2025.  However, you can begin gathering data to populate the platform and start implementing the principles behind Link2Hope today!

Tags

One Response

  1. Jim,

    This is the Bob Fox who tries hard to use Meet the Need in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia to connect churches to each other so they could meet needs and more importantly, build relationships of trust and affection so they could serve the cities collectively and more effectively. The software was a bit clunky for them to use, it seems. I liked it a lot, but it needed updating, as you and I discussed back then.

    A friend of mine has just asked me to help him launch a similar piece of software here to help connect community needs with community non-profit resources. His boss is pouring megabucks into this project–as you have for decades.
    I am glad to see that your new Link2Hope is coming online in 2025. The Christian world in every city needs software like that!! Obviously, I would love to see it implemented here.

    I am thinking that what my friend is doing and what you are doing could dovetail. He will be working with non-profits and perhaps government groups that can supply resources and also request volunteers to help them in their work. Our city of Virginia Beach has 11,000 volunteers now and could use more, for instance.

    I can see the possibility of my friend’s software and yours perhaps talking to each other so that the Chrisian community–persons, churches and ministries–could function bi-directionally to help the community but yours would add the discipleship/support/faith-based circles that my friend’s software will lack since they are not a Chrisian ministry, simply a non-profit wing of a for-profit company.

    I know that’s a mouthful. Perhaps my friend and I could talk to you sometime about some kind of collaboration. He is a retired pastor who has served very large churches mostly for decades.

    Blessings,

    Bob Fox

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

18 − 17 =

The 5 Steps to Revitalize Your Church

Subscribe to the Blog and Get the Free eBook!

The 5 Steps to Revitalize Your Church

Subscribe to the Blog and Get the Free eBook!

Root cause for the Church's decline & its path to Revitalization

“Any organization not focused on its customers, or focused on the wrong customers, cannot succeed.” – Jim Morgan