Church benevolence is one of those things that most churches do, but very little of them talk about. Even in business meetings, benevolence is over glossed over. I think in most Churches, benevolence is one of those good ideas gone bad.
Now, before you start thinking I don’t want to help out those in need, erase that thought. Quite the opposite: I think it is our Christian duty to help those in need. I think the Bible lays out clear instructions for us to help those who can’t help themselves. I don’t, however, think it is the Government’s duty. That’s a big difference. Welfare is another one of those ideas that fall under the category of good idea-poor execution…but that’s another column for another day.
Most of the members of a church congregation aren’t really even aware of the benevolence plan or program or giving of their Church, but just about every Church has it in its budget. Most members see “benevolence” on the budget (if they even look) and know it’s used for “helping people.” That’s about it. Church secretaries are the ones who are probably more familiar with it than anyone else because they’re the ones who deal with the people who come in and ask for money.
The problem, as I see it, goes back to the old adage: give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for his life.
When folks who need help—and there are quite a few of them out there—come to the church and ask for help, the Churches shouldn’t just give them the money. I think that’s a bad idea any way you slice it. There are some who would take advantage of the free money and go buy cigarettes and/or booze. I’m guessing those people would be in the minority, but they’re there.
Nor should the Church take one of the needy person’s bills and just pay it. Again, it’s an incredibly nice thing to do, but there are those who would abuse the generosity of the Church.
Someone who disagrees with this idea suggested that it didn’t matter; the church should just give and let God sort it out.
My thinking is that God has commanded us to be good stewards of our money (which is really just His money anyway) and free money given away with nothing in return is not being a good steward. And when that’s all said and done, what has the person learned? That the Church gives pays your bill when you can’t?
One idea would be to have them do some work around the church: pick up trash in the church parking lot, vacuum the sanctuary, something, anything to enable them to earn it.
Ahh, but you say Jesus fed the 5,000 for free. Well, granted they didn’t “pay” for it, that’s for sure. But they did sit and listen to him teach.
I’m very okay putting that idea forward. If somebody wants their light bill paid because they can’t afford it, tell them that is done on Sundays after Church services and they must come to the services in order to receive the benevolence. Let them first hear about the love of God…then witness it. At least then they might have an understanding why the Church is willing to help them.
(posted late because internet service was down)