Tampa -- It's an article of faith among many Christians that they should reach out to the poor.
What troubles some about Bishop Melvin B. Jefferson's Deeper Life Christian Church is its expectation that followers reward the ministry for its services. Although many are jobless and homeless, they are encouraged to join fundraising crews and are pressured for offerings.
That contradicts core Christian teachings, say other pastors who work with the disadvantaged.
"He's got his own Salvation Army; he's got his own Metropolitan Ministries,'' said the Rev. Abe Brown, pastor of First Baptist Church of College Hill in Tampa and founder of Prison Crusade ministries. "I can't knock that. Where are these people going to go?
"What concerns me is how he uses the people to collect donations on the street.''
Like Brown, Pastor Daniel Davy worries that Deeper Life's approach fosters dependence.
Davy's New Life Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church in Tampa supports a food bank and health clinic.
It is "absolutely the responsibility'' of the Christian church to meet more than just spiritual needs, Davy said.
"Ultimately, the goal is to find them a means to live and become productive citizens.''