Recently, I was curious to hear how other churches handled their benevolence funds and how they provided financial support to those who are in need in the church. I turned to a group of authors who are on the leading edge of how to best help people, and I thought they’d be a good start. So when the book arrived, I eagerly dove in.
But it only took me a few pages to realize something. The book was less about how to help other people, and felt more as plan for how to protect the church from being taken advantage of. This feeling raised a question: What is the heart behind benevolence at Mercy Hill?
Thankfully, the answer is not a heart that is guarding and fearful of being taken advantage of.
As the person handling finances at Mercy Hill, I’ve had a front row seat as to how benevolence requests are handled here at Mercy Hill. And the heart behind benevolence is simple:
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18 NIV)
Benevolence at Mercy Hill starts with the proper perspective that we were once given grace and mercy ourselves, without earning or deserving it. This is incredibly important because it is very easy to slip into a patronizing tone and perspective when helping those in need. Going back to the book I was reading, it suggested requiring pages and pages of paperwork for someone in need to complete. What may be intended to help can inadvertently turn into a series of litmus tests.
Building on this proper perspective, you get to the heart of benevolence at Mercy Hill which is a sacrificial love to those we call brothers and sisters. While our human sense of justice may kick in and say, “why do I have to give up what I earned to help someone who hasn’t earned it?” the Gospel steps in and calls us to say, “I am bound to you as a brother and sisters in Christ, and we will walk through this together.”
Practically speaking, yes, this means that Mercy Hill’s benevolence fund is primarily available to and for individuals who call Mercy Hill Church their church home.
But more importantly, it paints the picture that benevolence is the act of the body of Christ being engaged in each others lives and generously giving time, support, prayer, resources, and much more. Not only supporting through action, but also bringing truth in love to see restoration and redemption in our church family. When we ignore this call and simply resign the church’s benevolence activities to a form to fill out and a check to cut, then frankly, we’re doing it wrong.
Does this mean that at some point, maybe we will be taken advantage of? It may. Will this more personal touch make it messier? Sure. But when we were broken and lost, God came down and walked with us, took our burdens, and stepped into our messes. If that is what God has done for us, how can we do anything less for our brothers and sisters?
That is the call from John the apostle, and that is the heart behind benevolence at Mercy Hill Church.
The benevolence fund at Mercy Hill Church is supported through the generous donations made directly to the fund by individuals and families. To make a donation to the fund, visit www.mercyhill.org/give and on the payment page select “Benevolence Fund” from the reference drop down menu.