A benevolence system is all about people. But who should it help?
At the end of the day, it’s a people process through and through. And there are several categories of people that your benevolence system could help:
People from the Community
Turns out that this is the least agreed-upon group of people. Not because churches don’t want to help, but because of the different ways to help and the real-life limits of how many resources are available.
Some posts I read suggest considering helping anyone who asks. But they’d have you create an application form along with other tools to prevent abuse and to impartially determine who gets what share of the limited budget. That’s the reactive form of benevolence (in a good way).
But your community service efforts are a form of proactive benevolence. Through your community service processes you decide which groups get help and how to use the limited budget.
People in Your Church
Not because we want to focus inwards, but to encourage relationship, community and keeping benevolence at the grassroots level. When administered through your small group structure, the people themselves are the benevolence system and get to practice generosity very personally.
The Person in Charge
Actually, you should have two people in charge that are wired very differently. They are helped as they use their gifts for the Kingdom:
Someone Who’s Objective (Truth)
Someone needs to set the budget and lay out the guidelines without emotional attachment or time pressure. This person may already be involved in helping you set your church’s budget. They see things more black & white and will be able to set clear and common sense boundaries around your benevolence system.
Someone with High Relational IQ (Grace)
But that’s not the person who should be the face of your benevolence system, whether dealing with people from the community or coaching small groups. They will focus on relationships while operating within the boundaries set by the objective partner.
Jesus is Helped
Maybe it goes without saying. In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life, Jesus explains that on Judgement Day, “…the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did [these benevolent things] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Matthew 25) And that’s no small thing.
Have some healthy boundaries and guidelines in place, but keep your benevolence system focused on people.