What guidelines should a church have for helping those in need?


Our church receives a lot of requests for assistance. We regularly make food dishes and food and gas vouchers available.  We make funds available to help pay bills.  The requests for assistance come for our members, friends/neighbours of our members and from those outside our church.  As deacons, we sometimes struggle with regard to how to distribute the funds collected in ways that maintain our accountability to the congregation.  We currently have some 'understood' guidelines in terms of funds distribution but nothing in writing.  There must be churches that have written guidelines - we would appreciate a copy if you are able to share that with us.  Or perhaps, you could direct us to denominational sources of written church policy related to diaconal funds distribution.  Your comments are most welcome.  We appreciate all the help you are able to provide us.      

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See Guidelinelines for Benevolence from Diaconal Ministries Canada at http://www.diaconalministries.com/resources/documents/guidelinesforbenev... . I also encourage you to study the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert - http://www.whenhelpinghurts.org/. Ministry training webinars based on the book are available at http://www.chalmers.org/when-helping-hurts/webinar/schedule.php.

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Thanks to the two of you for these thoughts on a really important question about when and how to help the needy.   You might want also to take a look at this blog, just for the thought about mercy limiting mercy.   I was intrigued by Keller's concept and I think it is a handy way to summarize a lot of the excellent thinking in the book Terry is recommending, When Helping Hurts.  This book is one of the best of its kind that I know of....   developmental Christ-like thinking about how to be compassionate.