What Do You Call Your Benevolence Ministry?

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Our deacons have been asked to look at our benevolence ministry and to come up with a name that makes more sense to our community and congregation. 

Benevolent Fund is an older term and some of our younger members have said they don't really understand what it means. 

What name do you use for benevolence or helping with needs within your church and in the community? 

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I love this question. Not sure my church  has a designated name but will check into further and also discuss with others. 

We changed ours a few years ago and call it our Assistance Fund, overseen by our Assistance Deacon

Assistance Fund and Assistance Deacon falls short of the word Benevolence. In my opinion. I agree with other comments that the congregation and the recipients of this benevolence need to be enlightened as to its meaning. It really is a lovely word. Assistance means help; benevolence means good help. It has many sister words such as benefit. 

Community Builder

It may be helpful to clarify the purpose of the Benevolence Fund. Some churches restrict benevolence monies for membership only and then contract with a community organization for emergency needs that come from non-members in their community. If it is only for internal use a designation such as The Deacon Fund, or Emergency Assistance, or simply Assistance Fund might do. When it comes to emergency funds for the community again the purpose is important. If you advertise that assistance is available I would make sure it is intended only for crisis help and then with clear guidelines. In such a case a name like, Emergency Assistance, might be most helpful.

 

Eager to hear what others have to suggest.

Community Builder

While older, and maybe not in common use outside of the church, I think it is only those in side the church that would care what it is called. Instead of changing the name, we can just train/teach people what it means, and how it works. Often when we are taking a Benevolent Fund offering, I will give a one sentence explanation of what it is, and who it is for. Instead of changing the language (which really doesn't answer any questions either), I would encourage us to train, teach, and explain things better.

I agree, Lloyd.  I don't think that the first impulse should be to change the language of the church as much as we should redouble our efforts to train and disciple using the language of the church.  There are many terms of the church that are "old" and not always understood by all, but I would offer that is not because our people *cannot* understand them, but perhaps more that the church has not always taken the opportunity to embrace and promote the language of the church. 

When I hear the questioner above say that some of the younger members don't know what benevolence means, I hear an opportunity for the deacons to send a couple representatives each year to the youth group to explain the work of the deacons, including the work of benevolence.  What a joyful opportunity to connect with the youth!

I would add that there is beauty and grace in the term "benevolence" that we would do well to embrace rather than flee.  The definition of benevolence includes the ideas of a "disposition to do good, an act of kindness, a generous gift".  These are indeed marks that are a testament to God's grace at work in the church, radiating out from those who have received *the* generous gift to others with various needs.  I think we loose something beautiful if we discard the term, which of course would not by itself solve the problem that the church has not been educated about the important work of the church in this area. 

Community Builder

We would tend to agree with Lloyd and also with Andy R. It may surprise many that the word Benevolent is still used today by many people and organizations; the church certainly doesn't own a monopoly on the word and it's not as outdated as one may think.

Many churches have begun calling this 'fund' the Deacon Fund, as Andy and others point out. This is a fairly easy and concise name, but again would require clear and consistent explanations as well.

What we believe is at the heart of your question is about communication. Something, unfortunately, churches have not always done so well. In any church, family, business, or group, long-time "members" can easily assume the new or younger ones know and understand what is being talked about when referring to certain traditions, policies and/or procedures. Most have experienced this at least once or twice in their life and it can be very frustrating and confusing. While it may seem redundant for those who have been around a long time or those serving in some sort of leadership capacity, weekly teachings and reminders on WHY A CHURCH DOES WHAT IT DOES AND HOW THEY DO IT has several benefits for the entire membership. Speaking as though there is always that "one person" in the room who has no idea who you are or what you do and why you do it can go a long way in engaging and equipping your church community and 'leaving no person behind'!!

Our church just calls it "Benevolence." I think that the perceived need to have "trendy" or current names for things is becoming less of a "thing" these days. I would argue that is mostly due to people being confused by some of the obscure names out there where it really is not clear what they do. Last week I drove by a business that had a cool sounding name, but it gave no idea or inclination of what they did. If you do change the name I would encourage you to make it something that explains what the ministry is so that it is readily recognizable. Hope that helps! 

We have previously used the name,  Blessings to Share.   This intentionally includes more than just money.   

Community Builder

We call it the Deacons Care Fund. When announcing it as the offering in the bulletin we say:

The Deacons CARE Fund is set aside to help our church family members and others during times of temporary need. We want to offer assistance to anyone who needs it in this time of economic difficulty. The deacons encourage the congregation to help us meet these needs and replenish the Care fund.

Pretty much every Sunday we include:

Deacons CARE Ministry: If you know of or have a specific need, please contact a deacon (listed in the church bulletin) to make that known.

Not sure if that's too much better, but the fund seems to be doing all right, and I know the deacons have helped quite a few people.

We have a benevolence fund for members at my church called the "Family Support Fund" but we still call it a benevolence fund and when talking to recipients, we explain the meaning and purpose behind it. I would tend to agree with other comments here about not needing to change the word but emphasizing more of a need for explanation and education. Things like money and gifts are not meant to just be handouts and should be accompanied by an extension, to both the receiving and giving parties, to build relationships and disciple/mentor each other.

Jesse Edgington, NADC