Benevolence Ministries in the Church – 1

Let’s start this series with a couple of questions:

  1. what has been your experience with benevolence ministry?
  2. What has worked well and what has needed improvement?
  3. How have you balanced being discerning with compassion?
  4. How do you define what someone is genuinely in need of?
  5. Do you assess more than just financial needs?
  6. What kind of follow up is necessary (type, frequency, etc)?
  7. Do you provide financial counseling (how to budget, how to find a better job, resume prep, etc)?
  8. Is this solely at the discretion of the elders and deacons (e.g. you don’t need to personally help people outside your Sunday contribution because the elders have already budgeted to use some of that to help others)?

What are your thoughts?

0 Responses to Benevolence Ministries in the Church – 1

  1. Rex says:

    Last year I was preaching through the Gospel of Mark. I kept stressing that we are called to follow Jesus whose business was proclaiming in word and deed that the kingdom of God in breaking in upon this world. I asked the question “what does it look like to demonstrate the kingdom of God breaking in upon the world” (of course, Mark’s Gospel tells us.)? Any ways, I was somewhat accused of muddying the distinction between spiritual needs (e.g., salvation from sin) and physical needs (e.g., salvation from poverty). This person asked me if given a choice between salvation from sin or salvation from poverty, which would choose. I told them that I want the new world ruled by God rather than the old world where sin and evil rule and that in the new world, I would have salvation (period) which is both spiritual and physical.

    The distinction they were making is derived heavily from platonic dualism, even though most who make such distincition are unaware of the UNBIBLICAL sourse such distinctions are rooted in. They are distinctions which distinction which Jesus never made. It took the person almost two months but they eventually came to me and said that they got what I was saying.

    I don’t know how to do benevolent work. I do it and prefer to be more liberal in my charity than conservative. At times I struggle not to become jaded. At the end of the day, I want to help people to begin living under the kingdom rule of God. That includes helping them find freedom from the powers that keep them enslaved to a fallen world and the powers that keep them making choices that embrace a fallen world. To do one without the other is to leave the person still under the reign of a power that is not God.

    Rex
    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  2. Philip says:

    The three values we hold at our church…

    1.) Above all else, we want to show compassion & keep in step with the Greatest Command.

    2.) We don’t want to waste the Lord’s resources (Matt. 7:6) so far as it depends on our ability to read people & situations.

    —–
    (Given those two values, at our church, the guy in charge of benevolence is a compassionate man who has worked in the loans department of a bank for many years. He has expertise in reading people, and he’s not completely calloused.)
    —–

    3.) If someone dupes us (and goes to spend what we give them on drugs, or whatever), then they will have to square that with God on Judgment Day. People squander God’s blessings all the time. And the disappointment we feel when we discover we’ve been duped should not discourage us from well-doing (Gal. 6:9). Rather, that disappointment is part of the existential becoming (Rom. 8:29; 1st John 2:3-6).

    Your’s are real good questions, Matthew. I look forward to hearing everyone else’s responses…

  3. carolyn says:

    I was just thinking about this in church today. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young single mom pregnant with her 2nd child. I wondered what the church was doing to help her. Then I remembered that I was the church! My first reaction was to hand her cash. And I may need to seek her out and do just that. But in my heart, I know that she needs so much more. A friend, a mentor, and a way to help her maintain her dignity by earning money. That involves relationship. That involves time. It’s just so much easier to give money anonymously.
    O, Lord have mercy on me.

  4. mattdabbs says:

    Rex,

    Sorry I haven’t replied to that any sooner. I think what you mentioned is a HUGE issue in the church. People don’t get that Jesus came to save whole people with a multiplicity of needs. I think people use the “bigger” need of salvation to say that helping people financially is really not that important.

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