Every church seeking to serve the Lord should have caring programs established to help their own needy, the needy in their community, and the needy in the world.

The surpluses that the church must have in order to minister to the needy are always available. Too often, Christians are consuming or wasting them. Every church needs a regular program of sharing the biblical principles of managing money (in the home) and practical courses on planning (budgeting, insurance, housing). Once God's people learn God's plan for their finances, the funds will be available to meet legitimate needs.

Statistics prove that about 20 percent of the people tithe in the average evangelical church. In the churches we have surveyed, in which a consistent program of teaching God's principles of finances has been established, the percentage is over 80 percent.

The average American family spends over $2,000 a year on interest payments alone. If they can just be shown how to become debt free, a church of 100 families would have an additional $200,000 a year available for other programs.

Benevolence
Every church should have a benevolence program to help those who have legitimate financial needs. However, a benevolence program should not be a "give-away" program. There are definite biblical guidelines for those we are going to help. Every member of any local church should be able to look to the fellowship they attend as an extension of God's provision. They should feel the freedom to share their financial needs as freely as they would physical or spiritual needs.

Too often a local church's benevolence program amounts to the pastor directing the secretary to write someone a check for food, gas, or rent. That is usually the worst thing to do. Without any controls or follow-up, giving more money is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Also this system doesn't help those who have long-term needs due to illness, layoff, age, or the like. Benevolence is not an event, it is a vital part of ministering within the body of believers and requires several coordinated ministries.

Benevolence Committee
This committee is primarily made up of laypeople who will meet and evaluate needs presented within the church. Often this requires emergency action by one or two members to evaluate needs that result from "drop-ins" at the church office (or parsonage). A well-coordinated committee will free the pastor from the pressures of some emotional appeals. The most effective benevolence committees usually have members with varied spiritual temperaments.

Resource Ministry
To meet the needs of families, resources must be accumulated in advance. Examples are food and clothing, but it should not stop there. The church should have contact with businesses that can provide part-time or temporary work. One of the most effective ways to test the spirit of people who can't find work is to help them find it.

Other resources include the availability of legal or accounting advice, medical and dental care, and a number of well-trained financial counselors who will work with these families. Accountability is an essential part of any good benevolence program.

In Conclusion
No successful benevolence program will happen until God's people in the local church decide to get involved and make it happen. "Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all" (2 Corinthians 9:13).