The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has opened doors for our churches to do ministry, and this is an incredible display of God’s grace. But it could also inspire the sketchy, schemer, and scoundrel to seek ways to take advantage of the systems good people put into place. As stewards of the gifts given by your church, what are some ideas to keep in mind when responding to the ministry needs that may be in your community?
Develop a Ministry Application Process
Consider having people that need assistance to complete an application. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board has a good example here. Feel free to use it, tweak it or make it your own. Have those wishing to complete an application make an appointment during regularly determined times set aside by your church to lend assistance. Instruct the person at the church making the appointments to inform the potential applicant that only certain types of assistance are considered and what paperwork is needed to complete the application. Continue reading for more details on the limits a church may set.
Interview the Applicant
Hebron Church in Dacula, GA, uses the interview process to determine benevolence. They ask about important details of the application such as income (wages, child support, disability, SSI, tax returns), bills, non-necessities such as cable, Internet, and cell phones (i.e. if they have been discontinued). They ask about the number of adults living in the home and if they are working. Take the opportunity to ask about their church membership and how their church has helped them. Most importantly – as you conclude the interview – share the hope only found in Christ and pray for them.
Making the Decision
Create a small team or committee to handle these ministry decisions. This will take the burden off a single person. Allow for circumstances where a single person on the committee can make the decision in emergency situations. Follow up on some of the questions during the interview process. Create guidelines and follow the guidelines to the best of your ability. Some may include assistance amount limits (some churches limit help to $200 or $150 per application).
You may want to limit the number of times assistance applications can be submitted to once a quarter or once every six months. Your church may want to limit the gifts to certain types of help, rent or utilities, medicines and prescriptions, and a limited list of groceries items. Always provide the applicant with a list of local services that provide similar assistance whether the applicant receives help from your church or not.
Distribution of Funds
Never ever give an applicant a check or cash. Always contact the landlord or mortgage holder, the utility company, grocery store or pharmacy, and pay them directly. After the payments are made gather receipts and make copies for your files and the recipient. Keep good records so applications can be tracked.
The mission board has other more comprehensive guides to assist you with the development of this ministry. Consider the current and probable future possibilities that are becoming realities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis as opportunities to be the hands and feet of our Lord.
Please be sure to reach out if you have any questions about this list: Contact Us. We have other resources available related to the Coronavirus and ministry. Be sure to visit gabapstaging.wpengine.com/covid19 for more information. Also be sure to find us on social networks like Facebook and Instagram. Join the conversation!