Preparing Church Benevolence Ministry for Increased Requests (COVID-19)
Let me preface this by stating that I’m going to make a few assumptions in my following statements.
At Christ Chapel, we’ve experienced an marked increase in requests from congregants and community members needing financial assistance. In my conversations with nonprofits and others, I think we’ll see a major increase in Benevolence requests at the beginning of June. Right now, we’re experiencing the “calm before the storm”.
- June is the point when most people will have spent all of their stimulus and other government assistance.
- We are beginning to see some people maxing out their credit cards in order to pay their bills who wouldn’t normally use debt to pay bills.
- June will also be about the time that many landlords and lenders will end their grace periods.
All of these culminating factors create a ‘Perfect Storm’ for a large segment of the population. Many have never needed to ask for financial assistance from their church. In fact, many don’t know where to get help. This is an opportunity for ministry.
We (Christ Chapel) are preparing for a 10X increase by mid-June that could continue until the end of September (Q3 2020). That means if we see 6 Benevolence clients per week on average (pre-COVID19), we are preparing for 60 clients per week for a 16 week period (960 clients total). Those numbers are astronomical. However, behind every number is a life, a dream and a story that WE (the Body of Christ) get to step into. What a privilege!
My encouragement to ALL of us is to begin praying, creating and adjusting our benevolence plans, building up benevolence funds (storehouses) and collaborating with our nonprofit partners now.
- Build up your Benevolence fund
- Create a Benevolence Policy and Oversight Committee. This will relieve your senior pastor (and other leaders) of the duties of making decisions (Click here for more information)
- Create maximum threshold dollar amounts for assisting congregants and/or community (non-congregants).
- Create a ‘Continuum of Care’ through a combination of your church’s ministries and nonprofit partners.
- Create a ‘Resource List’ for those who do not fall within your church’s Benevolence Guidelines
- Know the IRS Guidelines for Benevolence Accounts.
- Make a list of what you will consider paying (rent, mortgage, utilities, childcare, etc).
- Make a list of what you will NOT paying (credit card debt, tuition, legal fees, car payments, medical bills, etc)
- We do not recommend giving cash or gift cards if at all possible, it is better to pay a bill on a client’s behalf.
- Create a ‘Service Area’ of zip code you will service
- Write a mission statement, guiding scripture and guiding principles for your Benevolence Ministry
“The Mission of Benevolence Ministry is to point every client to Christ by meeting them where they are and partnering on the path to Biblical transformation (through relief, rehabilitation/reconciliation and development)”
‣ Customer Service
‣ Biblical Outcomes
I hope this is helpful.