We recognize that giving to causes with "eternal returns" (i.e. missions) are a priority. However the Bible makes it clear that we are to care for people’s physical and/or monetary needs as well. Our system of benevolence giving is anchored in biblical principles.
This a brief summary of guidelines from Scripture regarding how, why, and to whom we should give in situations of acute need.
- We must give generously, considering even those who do not merit the gift, as we do not merit the gift of salvation.
- Giving shines forth the goodness and generosity of God. It is a witness to our faith in a loving God.
- Our decisions must be made wisely, as is fitting of good stewards.
- We need to be cheerful, hopeful, and loving in our giving.
- We must remember the poor, the orphans, and the widows, with special emphasis on the needy inside the church. We must share our money, food, and time with them.
- We must remember the needy that we may not necessarily like or be attracted to.
- We have not only been given extreme material wealth as Americans, but we have also been given the ultimate gift of salvation. Therefore, we are to be held accountable if we squander away the opportunity to spread the love of Christ through giving and through the preaching of the gospel.
The Holy Spirit & Prayer
We seek guidance from God as our Counselor, and we understand that if we do not abide in prayer and dependence on God, we are without wisdom. It is very important that we seek wisdom from God.
We saw in the first category that Scripture commands us to handle giving wisely. We rely on paradigms derived from scripture to help us make wise choices when facing an acute need. Here are some general principles we’ve come up with:
- Check yourself to ensure that the attitude behind your giving aligns with Scripture (see category 1 above).
- Pray: that God would give you wisdom to make the right choice; that your gift would
- build the person up in the love of Christ. Abide in prayer and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit (see category 2 above).
- Think about what is actually most beneficial for the person in need. Many times, satisfying an
- immediate physical need (i.e. the classic “bus fare”) is not what would be most helpful to that person. In such cases, consider pointing them in another direction, offering help in non-monetary form, etc.
- Remember to have patience in giving. It is okay if our giving does not have a dramatic effect in the life of whoever receives the gift.
- Remember that Christ told us to give to whomever asks. Also remember that Christ did not expect that everyone who asks be healed. Christ is certainly telling us to give until it hurts—but he is not telling us to be stupid and irresponsible stewards. Christ uses hyperbole for a reason. We’re supposed to take him at his word, with seriousness and without twisting it into something strange, unbiblical, or unwise.
- Salina’s institutional benevolence giving system ends with the wisdom of the elders. Go to them for advice/affirmation.
When a church member (seeking to meet an acute need) has considered these things, you have three options to pursue from there (all three are valid depending on context.)
- Do not give.
- Pony up your own money.
- Give from Salina Street’s funds.
If you choose options #1 or #2, follow through and may the Lord bless your efforts. If you choose option #3, then keep reading (the rest of this document is for you.)
Acute, benevolence-type needs will vary greatly, and each situation will require its own wisdom. However, based on the principles above, we can establish some qualifications for consideration in order to vet the benevolence requests. If you think we’re being stingy… check out 1 Timothy 5 for the qualifications on what it means to be a widow deserving church funds.
How do we define benevolence-type ‘needs’, exactly? What qualifies, generally?
- Living needs (rent, food, shelter, water, medical care, etc.)
- Emergency needs
What are some examples of: ‘yes, maybe, no’ – for benevolence funds?
- an active member of our church has a house that’s just burned down
- the missionaries we’re committed to have urgent living/emergency needs
- a need that is urgent, but maybe not life threateningly urgent
- someone who has a legitimate need inside or outside of our church
- non-emergency needs (i.e. tuition/education)
- ”needs” that are not needs- i.e. ‘needs’ from someone in a really slack/comfortable life situation.
- re-occurring payments (i.e. the fourth time we’ve had to pay rent for a person who is not showing up on their end)
- anyone who is actively lying to us
- if possible, tie the giving to work somehow (for the benefit of the individual in need – not for personal gain, duh)
- the person in need is a member of the church
If the benevolence candidate meets the qualifications above, follow the process outlined below:
- Present the situation to the deacon (Rocky) or to a member of the giving team.
- We’ll likely point you to this document and either personally approve/veto the candidate or seek counsel from the elders.
- Once approval is sought and given from church leadership, we’ll have the candidate fill out an application (who are you, who do you know, etc.) and other necessary forms (tax, IRS stuff, etc.)
- When those logistics have been taken care of, the Treasury team will cut a check and assist in how the money is transferred or how the actual need is met.
- because benevolence needs are sometimes acute, private, and/or time-sensitive, the elders maintain full authority to ‘expedite’ the process and mete out funds as they see fit – and the congregation cheerfully affirms their authority as such.
- general pattern at Salina is that institutional giving goes to missionaries & individual giving (outside of tithing to Salina) goes to benevolence needs, etc. We feel like this is a healthy, useful pattern that gives people opportunity to ‘give out of poverty’. But this pattern is in no way prescriptive.
- there is no concrete, quantifiable ‘benevolence fund’ with readily available $$ set up at Salina Street Church.
- a request for benevolence funds, even if made on good terms, in prayer and wisdom, and following all the rules/processes, does not guarantee that you will receive money.
- church elders have the final say on any benevolence giving situation.
2 Corinthians 8: 1-5—We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Also — Luke 6.
2 Corinthians 9: 8,9—And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9: 12, 13—For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others
1 Timothy 4:12—Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
Acts 4: 32, 33—Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
Matthew 10: 12-16—As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
2 Corinthians 9:7—Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
1 Chronicles 29:9—Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
James 2: 15-16—If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
Galatians 6:10—So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
James 1:27—Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Matthew 25: 35-40—For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Romans 15: 1-3—We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
Galatians 2:10—Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Proverbs 29:7—A righteous man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge.
Luke 10: 29-37—But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Ephesians 4:1—I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called
Luke 12:48—But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
1 Corinthians 4:2—Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.
John 14: 25-26—These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Colossians 4:2—Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6—Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
James 1:5—If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
James 4:3—You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
Luke 6:30—Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
Luke 4: 23-27—And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
2 Thess 3:6-15 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
13 As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 14 If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.
1 Tim 5:9-10 Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband, 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.