Helping People / Benevolence Ministry
In the church some of the hardest decisions involve the question, who should we help? In a church setting those who answer this question are often part of a benevolence, or giving team. Usually a set of guidelines help to make these decisions easier, but never easy. These guidelines come from direct biblical teachings, biblical principles, and wisdom. Here is an example of some guidelines:
Timothy encouraged the churches that he worked with to help the widows. Interestingly, Timothy also presented some rules to help the church know who to help. Those guidelines can be
found in 1 Tim. 5:9-16.
- She must be a widow.
- She must be over 60 years old.
- She was faithful to her husband.
- She does good deeds.
- She does not have family to care for her physical needs.
Therefore, we see it is alright for churches to make guidelines about who they will help and in what ways. Why is a written policy so important? A written policy helps prevent misunderstandings about the purpose of our program and its parameters. Having written criteria helps decision-makers affect consistent evaluations and holds them accountable to these pre-determined guidelines.
Who should the church help?
- The Bible does talk about helping in a regular way those who have no way of working or providing forthemselves. We see in Acts 6:1-7 the church appointed a group of people to help the widows of the church.
Often in the Bible the kinds of people that have no way of working or providing for themselves are the widows and orphans (James 1:27). I believe that today we have new categories of people like single mothers to whom the church should give special attention. The church can help if the family cannot, but it should be the family’s responsibility first (1 Tim. 5:16).
- The Bible talks about helping those who are poor or suffering because of an emergency event. Forexample, Acts 11:28-30 there was a famine in Judea and other church members collected funds to help those in the famine.
- Needy people from another place. Heb. 13:2
- James 2:15-17 and Gal. 6:10 talk about the importance of caring for those inside the church. We don’t ignore those outside of the church, but we give first needs to those in the family of God. We can provide assistance to our own church members.
- The church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:23). The church must do with its funds what Christ wouldhave done if he had those funds. Luke 4:18-19 talks about Jesus’ ministry to the poor, prisoners, blind, and those being ruled over.
Things to Remember:
- The Bible does not support helping those who have a way to work but choose not to because they are lazy.
1 Thess. 4:11-12 – we should work for our food. 2 Thess. 3:10-12. It is not honorable to depend on the church to give us something we or our family can give us.
- The Bible does not support helping those who have a way to provide for their family / themselves, but misused the money on other unimportant things. 1 Tim. 5:8.
- Sometimes we must realize money is not a person’s problem. Prov. 17:16 says money is not valuable in the hands of a fool. If the church gives money to a foolish person we know it will be misused.
- The church should think carefully about (1) lending money, (2) doing what another organization does, and (3) working a business.
- We should not lend money because Prov. 22:7. We do not want people’s spiritual motives confused with physical motives. Banks exist to help people with loans. If the cause is good give money, but loaning money destroys relationships.
- Since we only have limited funds, if there is an organization in town that helps someone with something, we can refer the person to that organization.
- The church should not loan money for business projects. The money entrusted to the church is for good works, not for business projects.