Practical Benevolence Ideas
For Christians – ministers, leaders, members alike – benevolence is one of the most emotional and challenging issues laid before us by the Lord. The major problems seem to distill to one deep question: how do we harmonize responsible stewardship concerns with the gospel imperative to serve the poor? The following suggestions were made off the top of my head in a ministerial forum, but I would like to share a broader discussion of them here, if possible.
This is the original question I was asked:
Benevolence, however, is an important aspect of the Lord’s work that individually and congregationally we are called to do. May I suggest that you give some positive suggestions as to how churches may do this work more effectively? And could these suggestions as well be practical. After all, some churches may get as many as 2-5 phone calls a day requesting help with bills, etc. Many are on heavily traveled roads and have several show up on their door step on a regular basis. Some churches have almost all local/community people to call, some have mostly “passers-through” who want help along their journey. And every church is limited by both money and man hours. Further, many churches do not allow the preacher to do “church” benevolence, and anything he does is out of his own pocket. IT IS NOT EASY. What suggestions do you have to get the job done effectively?
The following were my responses:
1) Take the church out of the phone book. By all accounts in the discussion, this is the main source of scammers. Remove their ability to contact you. And most faithful Christian travellers in 2008 do not wait until they get somewhere to plot their course.
2) Get out of the building. Again, by all accounts, this is the second main source of scammers – beating a path to the building. Get out of the building, and the scammers will stop coming.
3) Time management at the congregational level- I do not believe that there is a true manpower issue. I believe the issue is willpower. People are unwilling to sacrifice their routine luxuries of time and recreation to serve their community in the name of Christ. Thus the labor falls on the preacher, who put the target on himself when he took the job. The way we currently operate is comfortably wrong.
4) Get involved benevolently in the local community. Stop waiting for the needy to come to you. GO TO THEM. Start small – start right where your church building is. Adopt one block. Adopt one family. Then expand that gradually, and watch the kingdom of God burst forth. If your church building is in an affluent area… MOVE! Go where the poor are. When you know you are deeply involved in benevolence, saying “no” becomes less guilt-ridden. And when your congregation is known for benevolence, people won’t have to look you up. Your reputation will guide the needy to you.
5) Intentionality is the key here. What does your congregation INTEND to do about poverty in your community?
What do you think?
in HIS love,