Benevolence

The Word of God instructs us in Galatians 6:10, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

Harvest Bible Chapel York Region seeks to obey these Biblical instructions by coming alongside people with love and support. Benevolence isn’t only about money – it’s about showing love, care, and support. It can take the form of helping someone write a resume and find employment, helping someone create a family budget and reduce costs, and much more. This document seeks to explain the benevolence ministry at Harvest.

Who do we help? Basic Qualifications for recipients of benevolence

In accordance with Galatians 6:10, recipients of funds disbursed from the benevolence fund are, in order of priority:
1. Church members
2. Regular attendees
3. Members of the community
4. Ministries and Christian agencies that serve people with the same needs as those which fit the criteria for assistance from the benevolence fund, but which provide services the church does not

What are the biblical principles that we follow regarding how we are to provide benevolence?

We believe that the Bible provides the following direction:

1. We are commanded to work and provide for our own needs.

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.” 1 Thessalonians 3:10-12

This passage tells us that individuals are to provide for their own needs by working. An individual who we conclude is able to work but is unwilling to do so will not be considered for benevolence. Benevolence is not to enable laziness or create dependency. An individual will only be considered for benevolence if they have a consistent history of gainful employment and if they are willing to work. In addition, prior to being given benevolence, individuals will be encouraged to first get a second job or find additional ways to supplement their income, cut expenses and live within their means. An individual who receives benevolence and is able to work may be asked to provide volunteer labour at the church.

2. We are commanded to provide for the needs of our family and relatives.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5:8

After providing for our own needs, we are commanded to provide for the needs of our immediate family and our relatives. Therefore before seeking benevolence from the church, individuals should seek financial help from their family/relatives as this is the biblical model. An individual seeking benevolence will be questioned about this.

3. Before benevolence is sought from the church leadership, we are to personally provide help to those who we know are in need.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” Matthew 25:31-36

Bearing one another’s burdens and lovingly caring for one another should happen at the individual level before seeking help at the corporate church level. This is the biblical model. Therefore before we seek benevolence at the corporate church level, we should first provide any help we can ourselves.  An individual seeking benevolence for someone else will be asked what they, themselves, have done to meet those needs.

4. Small groups are the primary means by which people in our church are cared for. Therefore, we should individually seek to help those in our small groups who are in need.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:10-13

We encourage everyone in our church to be part of a small group for love, care, discipleship and accountability. We believe that the Christian life is meant to be lived in community and we “do life together” in our small groups. In doing life together, we individually seek to care for the needs of those in our small groups. These needs can be financial, physical or spiritual, and we use the gifts and resources that God has given us to meet the needs of others. When the need is too great for us to meet individually we then seek help from others in our small group. Therefore the primary means of providing benevolence is at the small group level where we each seek to help those in our small group who are in need.

5. When the need is too great for the small group to meet, the small group leader should make their Flock Leader/Ministry Director aware of it. The Flock Leader/Ministry Director would then bring the need to the Elders. The Elders will prayerfully consider the request and make a decision.

What do we provide financial help for? Disbursement Criteria

Benevolence funds are intended to meet basic and urgent needs, such as:
• Lodging/rent/mortgage
• Food
• Utilities
• Clothing
• Medical treatment
• Transportation to or from a place of employment
• Funeral expenses
• Initial evaluation and professional counselling appointments

Needs that may not be met by the benevolence fund include:
• Business investments, or anything that brings financial profit to the person or family
• Paying off credit cards. Exceptions can be made when an individual has had to use a credit card in a crisis or emergency (e.g., hospitalization, death, etc.)
• Needs of individuals who are wanted by the law or for paying fines as a result of breaking the law
• Housing for unmarried couples
• Penalties relating to late payments or irresponsible actions
• Student debt, private school fees or tuition
• Business ventures or investments

How much help is provided?

There is no specific limit. However, as a church we do not provide a series of benevolence payments to someone. Otherwise the individual could be considered to be an employee of the church by virtue of them receiving funds from the church on a regular basis, and withholdings and information slips would need to be issued. Therefore, at the corporate church level we provide one-time benevolence gifts rather than a series of benevolence payments to individuals.

Whenever possible, rather than providing benevolence directly to the individual, the church will make payment directly towards the need. For example, the church will directly pay a landlord or a utility company.

In addition, to be proactive and to follow the Biblical model, we encourage people who are seeking benevolence to go through some coaching, which the church provides on a ministry basis. Contact the church office to request coaching.

It is possible to receive a donation receipt for substantial benevolence gifts but for a receipt to be issued the gift must first be approved by the Elders and also meet all of the criteria stipulated in this document.