If you were to spend a month in a Church office your eyes will be open to a whole new world. I suppose this is true for every charitable organization. I know it is also true of people who work in the office at the school or other government agencies. In my conversations I have had several people share similar stories but I see the world from a Church office.
The issue that some of us understand and you may not is benevolence. Benevolence is defined as charity or a charitable donation. Honestly it is about money. People come through the doors of the church on a weekly basis asking for money. People want money for their gas bill, water bill or rent. They need help and they want the Church to provide it.
Here are things I have learned from the Church about benevolence requests.
1. Over 90% of all requests are from people outside of the Church. The majority of requests for help are from people who have never nor ever intend to attend our Church or any Church.
2. Most requests are needed today. I received two phone calls this morning and the people need money today. Note – this is hard for a Church who runs on volunteers who are at their jobs. It takes days and sometimes a week to process a request.
3. Everyone has a sob story. I am not trying to be mean in any way. Honestly every request seems to involve a child, someone handicapped, cancer, disability, funeral, divorce or elderly. I have heard similar stories so many times I can usually guess the ending.
I could list many other things I have noticed but these are the biggies.
With so many requests for help, what is a Church (or any organization) to do? Well, I want you to know a few things.
1. We help members, attendees and the people they recommend first and foremost. Knowing the situation is a huge plus for helping. We try to take care of our own.
2. Connection with other local organizations or churches is a must. With an email or two I can usually find out more of the situation. This is especially true in a small town. We have people in our community who request help from every church using different names and family members. Knowledge is extremely helpful.
3. Never give cash. This is true for any one. First priority is to help with food. After that, we help pay bills and that is it. No prescription meds, no pet food, no tobacco and no cash.
4. Most likely you are being played. Just being 100% honest. Very, very few are legitimate needs. People are foolish with their money and that is how they ended up in this situation. I have decided that God asks me to give and I will be judged for that. They will be judged for what they did with it. I can only handle my part of that equation. As a result I ask questions and give to people I think will use it the best they can.
No request is easy to handle. As a Christian I take my faith very seriously and that involves the way I treat other people. I always want to err on the side of being too generous as an individual and as a Church. There is also a point where I have to be wise. There is a fine line between being helpful and supporting laziness. There is a fine line between supporting people’s foolish decisions and helping people who have had a few things go wrong. If you think this is easy, spend a month in the office and I am sure I can convince you otherwise.