September 09 2015
Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence
Every church is familiar with the moment:
A man walks into the church office. Approaching the reception desk, he explains that he owes three months’ worth of rent.
A woman sits down across from one of the church volunteers. A stack of papers and envelopes in her hands, she explains that she can’t cover her utility payments this month.
Then they ask the church for financial help. What happens next?
On October 6th, Chalmers will release Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence, a book designed to help churches effectively navigate the moment when someone asks them for financial assistance. Written by Steve Corbett, Chalmers’ Community Development Specialist, and Brian Fikkert, Chalmers’ Founder and President, the book equips church pastors, staff members, deacons, and volunteers with practical tools for church benevolence ministry with low-income people.
Beyond preparing churches to identify what immediate action may be most helpful when someone asks for assistance, the book also equips churches with next steps to convert the initial encounter into a long-term, relational process of change.
“The goal is to see more and more churches engaging with low-income people in deeply transformative ways,” explains Fikkert. “Some churches responded to When Helping Hurts with paralysis. They were so afraid of doing harm that they started pulling back when people approached them for help. This book provides church leaders with concrete guidance on how to move forward effectively.”
Steve Corbett, the coauthor of Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence, talks about the project
Emphasizing the complexity of poverty, Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence guides readers through some of the realities low-income people in the U.S. face, including topics ranging from trauma to payday lending. “When church leaders move past pity or stereotypes to wrestle with the nuances of poverty, they are better able to engage with people who are poor through a framework of discernment and more resilient compassion,” shares Jerilyn Sanders, Chalmers’ Director of US Training. “As a result, church leaders and volunteers can identify the underlying factors contributing to a person’s material poverty—and see areas of their own lives differently as they walk alongside low-income people.”
The project also includes online versions of the tools referenced in the book, such as questions that churches can use to create benevolence policies, an intake form template, and materials for training volunteers. These resources aim to make the concepts in the book concrete and immediately applicable to a range of churches.
As Michael Briggs, Chalmers’ Executive Director shares, “At the end of the day, we pray that Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence equips churches to enfold low-income people in their church families, addressing the spiritual, social, and material aspects of poverty. And along the way, we believe that all people involved will encounter Jesus’ transformative power together, which is an outcome that reaches well beyond writing a check to cover a rent payment or utility bill.”