Many of the concepts introduced here come from a third world context, but are beneficial in North America as they give us the opportunity to reevaluate the fundamentals of our benevolence ministries. For background information, many people in Alotau find it very hard to say no to requests. Yet, we needed to establish a foundation that at times it is alright and even Christ-like to say no.
Photo by TURKAIRO
When is it Christ like to say no to a benevolence request?
- When the person does not fit the overall picture of individuals from the “who should the church help”.
- When saying yes is not a blessing to that person.
- When the church does not have the funds available to help that person.
- When a majority on the giving team doesn’t feel good about the choice to give to a particular person or cause.
Helping people doesn’t always mean giving them what they ask for – it means giving them what they need.
Sometimes helping someone is done by giving time to find someone qualified to help them. For more on this topic you can see Ten Ways to be Sure Helping is Helping.
Guidelines for the Benevolence / Giving Team
- The church would like to see those funds spent. If the funds are not used in responsive giving then it can be used for planned giving.
- The benevolence team has the blessing of the church to spend up to __ kina (dollars) based on the judgment of the group.
- The church supports saying no to candidates who do not meet the criteria.
- Ask as many questions as necessary. Why do you need the money? How did this need come up? Who else have you asked for money? Did you see your family yet? When is the last time you asked the church? Is there anyone else that can help? If the questions don’t seem to be answered properly, keep going until the story is clear, or until it is clear the story is not true. Don’t help people who lie to get help.
- Sometimes we need to help people with their problems. That is sometimes more than just a money problem.
- Know that someone will take advantage of the church. Your job is not to be a detective and protect every dollar, but to be faithful in asking questions and acting like Christ would act. Yes, people will cheat the church.
- If someone needs money to buy food. It is best for a church member to buy food and give food instead of money.
- Always ask people to bring receipts for things that can be receipted.
- Keep a book that records requests, and the church’s reply. For example, did the church give them money? If yes, how much?
Any other occasions you think it is Christ-like to say no? Does your church have guidelines for benevolence? Are they public so others can reference them? If so, could you suggest some links with material?