Benevolence…Should We Do More?
Kenny Carpenter, Maryville, TN –
I don’t think as a whole Apostolic churches are involved enough in benevolence. I think what has happened is that so many churches have been scammed by con-jobs they’ve been turned off from it. But that doesn’t release us from the needy people who come to us. The Bible certainly teaches benevolence. The Bible speaks of giving alms, and that was to the poor and needy. It commanded to leave the corners of the field unharvested for the poor to reap there. Benevolence could be a tool for evangelism, but at the present time, I can’t think of many souls we’ve won through just that. It’s a sad day now that people only see the church for that. We have a food pantry, and we do help with food and utilities and such if there is truly a need. We pay utility bills directly to the utility company. Each need has to be examined. The Bible talks about “widows indeed.” We ask them to come to a service and meet with them afterward. I don’t think it’s too much to ask people to come to a service. Our hope is that God will get a hold of that heart during the service.
Scott Marshall, Russellville, KY –
The kind of benevolence my church is involved in depends on whether it involves people within or without the church body. Within the church we try to have activities that focus on the seniors and elders in the church, and we make sure our shut-ins and those in the nursing homes have regular visitation. Without of the church we address it as the situation arises. Sometimes we financially help people or we get them food, depending on the circumstances. If we reach out, God is going to bless us.
Michael Mitchell, Pastor, Brooklyn, NY –
From the standpoint of calling us Christians, which means Christ-like, we are mandated to help our community. We have the example of the multitude that followed Jesus. The disciples came to Him and said, “Master, the people are hungry. Currently we are meeting the needs of our members, such as single parents and widows, through a food pantry every week. For evangelism, we are launching a new plan that involves a housing project near our church. Our state senator is proposing to the federal government that our church be the liaison between the people and the government. We would receive three to four truckloads of food weekly, and anyone could come after our Sunday morning service and receive a $50 bag of groceries. I think the secular world and other denominations are outdoing Apostolic churches when it comes to benevolence. Maybe this is because we’ve been programmed to uphold the separation of church and state and to stay away from secular activities. But I have to ask myself, does my community need to be saved? Will this bring my neighbors to my church rather than the others?
Kent Elliott, Manchester, CT –
The majority of the benevolence is within our congregation, except for the holiday community efforts. We do not use it as a form of evangelism; rather we strive to help meet both the physical and spiritual needs of those in the congregation. It is our belief that we should assist those who are doing everything they can to make it and still come up short. As an example, we have a large population of single mothers and when our director finds one of them struggling to come to church due to lack of gas money, she will provide them with gas cards to help. We give on a case-to-case basis, with our director sensitively determining the legitimacy of the need. If someone calls from outside the congregation, they must fill out an application that is reviewed by the director.
Gary Evensen, Secaucus, NJ –
The need for benevolence ministry depends on who the church is reaching out to and their culture. My church is not in a poor area – it’s more of a middle-class area. I believe we need to teach people to be self-sufficient instead of “here’s food every day, but there’s no hope for you.” Using it as outreach is ok, but it takes a special kind of person to lead a benevolence ministry.
Jason Clark, Oakland City, IN –
We don’t have a set program because our facilities don’t allow for it. We tend to handle it case by case, up to my discretion. I’ve bought groceries for people, paid rent, as the need arises. As our church grows we may set up a benevolence fund. There will always be people with needs, and the church should be there to meet needs. Even with our best intentions, I’m sure our local church and the church as a whole could do more. For example, most churches may have a food or clothing bank, but perhaps we could do more helping in other countries, in catastrophes and natural disasters.