If you spent one month in the Church office, you would have a different view of helping people. Most people have no idea what happens here almost every day. It might surprise you the number of requests for money we receive repeatedly.
These requests come in one of three categories. First, there are phone calls for help with a bill. Almost all of these have a sad story about how they lost one of their utilities, or they are about to lose it. Also, people need help with gas or food immediately. Second, requests for support of a mission project. Numerous people want to accomplish something great for God. All their dreams require money, so they contact the Church seeking the help of other believers. The final group of requests is people looking for help with a community project. These are some type of good work, but usually, do qualify as God’s work. There is a need in our community, and people want to help, even though they will never mention the name of God they still look for help from the Church. Honestly, over the next month as we approach Christmas and we live in the shadow of the new year we will receive at least 30 requests for financial help.
I am blessed to serve in a Church that has several different avenues to help people this time of year. Even then, there is just no way to meet all the requests. So how does the Church decide who and what to help?
Here are several things our Church leadership considers.
1. We gather INFORMATION. Information is vital. The more we know, the better we can help. We request paperwork be filled out and submitted. We file old requests and make notes on them.
2. We seek the WISDOM of others. Frequently I text the other Churches in town to see what they know about the situation, person or ministry. I present information to the leadership of the Church and ask for input. No one person makes the decision about the Lord’s money alone.
3. We ask people to PRAY. We ask God to open or close doors, to show us the direction to go and how to best handle the situation.
4. We prioritize GOD’s WORK. As a Church we want to support people who are in the Church, are interested in the gospel or are trying to promote the work of the Lord. There are hundreds of good projects that help people who need support. They are good, if not great works, but they do not further the name of Jesus. We weight this issue carefully.
5. PERSONAL CONNECTIONS are helpful. Does anyone know who is requesting this money? Is there anyone who can stand up for this need and verify the people who are asking for it?
There is no set formula to handle all requests because every situation is unique. We, as a Church leadership, seek to decide based on the most accurate information to promote the work of God in our world. Sometimes, that means we must tell people who their request has been denied. It is not because we are mean or greedy, it just means there is not enough money to handle every need or want. I wish we could do more, but no Church has an overabundance of money. We must be wise with what God has given us.
Over the next six weeks, you will hear stories both good and bad coming from Churches. I know from personal experience, none of these situations were handled in a light-hearted way. Churches and their leaders have a heart to help, and we take it seriously. Sometimes wonderful decisions abound, and other times hard choices are required, I hope that God is glorified through it all.