XPastor tries to help churches by providing some of the essentials for running a church—items like job descriptions, employment applications, review forms and policies. Below is the 2008 Deacon Handbook of Henderson Hills Baptist Church of Edmond, Oklahoma.
There are two offices of the church mentioned in the Bible. The first of these is that of “overseer,” or elder. The second is the deacon, or “servant.” God calls the individual to either office, and the individual is recognized with great honor in the church in his acceptance of the calling. Deacons are recognized by their peers as humble servants and ministers of mercy long before they are invited into the office of deacon. This demonstrates a commitment to the hard work of helping God’s people over time.
It is HHBC’s belief that both elders and deacons are biblically designated as officers of a local church. HHBC’s ordination may not extend to other churches when an elder or deacon moves to that church, nor does an elder or deacon ordained in another church maintain the office when moving to HHBC. It is recognized, however, that experience gained in other places may also be beneficial to one’s service at HHBC, and the arrival of such officers from other churches may signify a willing candidate that may be considered for nomination into the mentoring process at HHBC. In all cases, HHBC obeys the biblical principal of absolutely affirming one’s qualification for the office: And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 1 Tim. 3:10 (ESV)
This handbook is designed to outline the basic characteristics and requirements of being a deacon at Henderson Hills Baptist Church, as developed by the Elder Council and the Deacon Body. It should be considered as a reference and guide only. We at Henderson Hills are committed to being a thoroughly Biblical church, with thoroughly Biblical leadership.
“For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 3:13
Section 2—Defined Purpose
Deacon Vision Statement (Deacon Defined)
“A deacon is a biblically qualified servant-officer who is called by God and led by elders.”
Deacon Mission Statement (What a Deacon Does)
“A deacon is a loving, compassionate man who promotes the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, and who ministers to the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the people in the promise of hope.”
The Relationship between Elders and Deacons
Though deacons are subordinate to elders, they are to be elevated, even exalted within the church body. Elders must be careful to lead the deacons with excellence, communicating clearly and frequently to avoid misunderstandings and clarifying goals and responsibilities. Deacons should be freed to do the hard work of directly touching people’s lives. Elders and deacons must work together and lead by example, continually fostering an atmosphere of love, with trust and respect for each other.
Deacons are the servant-ministers of the church. Deacons have the honor of modeling, for the local church and the lost world, God’s compassion, kindness, mercy, and love. As the church compassionately cares for people’s needs, the world sees a visible display of Christ’s love, which will draw some people to the Savior. Deacons are to be an example of commitment, unity, and harmony in their service.
The deacons are to effectively and carefully administer the church’s charitable activities. They are agents of mercy and distributors of relief. They help the poor, the jobless, the sick, the widowed, the elderly, the homeless, the shut-in, and the disabled. They comfort, protect, and encourage people and help to meet their needs.
Specific deacon’s ministries are covered in Section 7.
- Acts 6: 1-4 (A Biblical deacon model)
- Phil. 1:1 (The first New Testament diaconate reference)
- 1 Tim. 3:13 (Deacon rewards)
Section 3—The Qualifications and Expectations of a Deacon
Deacons must be members in good standing of HHBC and possess the qualifications stated in 1 Tim. 3:8-10, 12-13. These qualifications are listed below:
- A man of dignity (1 Tim. 3:8). A deacon must be well behaved, well organized, a man whose life is in order. This often affects such areas of life as responsibility and honorable use of language. If the deacon were not respectable, he would never have the credibility needed to feed, love, and care for the flock.
- Not double-tongued (1 Tim. 3:8). This characteristic plainly prohibits any kind of manipulative, insincere, or deceitful speech. Behind a deceitful tongue is a deceitful mind. Positively, the term emphasizes integrity of speech, sincerity, and truthfulness. A deacon must be a man of his word.
- Not addicted to much wine (1 Tim. 3:8). This characteristic sets down the absolute prohibition of drunkenness in a deacon’s life. We believe it is a prohibition against the abuse of wine (or any other substance) that would damage a man’s testimony in the community and ministry in the church.
- Free from the love of money, not fond of sordid gain (1 Tim. 3:8). A man meets this qualification if he has an obvious understanding of the evil the love of money can cause and then rejects the temptation it brings. (1 Tim. 6).
- Holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience (1 Tim. 3:9). A deacon’s life must be consistent with Christian doctrine. The New Testament does not allow people to separate life and doctrine. Whenever we knowingly act in a way that is contrary to God’s Word and do not seek His forgiveness, we defile our conscience. Every time we violate our conscience, we weaken the Holy Spirit’s convicting power and make sin and hypocrisy easier to commit.
- Let these also first be tested (1 Tim. 3:10). The deacon cannot be a new convert. A deacon’s ongoing service to the church and ministry to those in need should be a well-beaten path of his life.
- Beyond reproach (1 Tim. 3:10). Beyond reproach literally means “not able to be taken hold of.” It relates to having a good reputation. In a way, this is a summary statement of the rest of the qualifications. When a Christian applies the principles of God’s Word, and desires to deepen his relationship with Christ, the result will be a lifestyle that can be described as being beyond reproach. Character flows from values and faith. When we establish a sincere faith in Christ, godly values blossom and character deepens. Obviously, a deacon must have an excellent reputation if he is to have credibility with the flock of God.
- Husband of one wife (1 Tim. 3:12). The Greek words, which we translate as “the husband of one wife,” speak to the subject of fidelity in marriage, not marital status. Directly rendered, the Greek phrase says, “a one woman man.” If married, the deacon must be absolutely committed to his wife. Many well-respected commentators agree this phrase addresses the issues of polygamy and fidelity in marriage, not divorce. However, we should not assume from this that divorce is inconsequential or insignificant. Jesus sternly warned His followers to avoid divorce. Since a deacon must be a good steward of his family, a recent divorce disqualifies a man from serving as a deacon. However, divorce is not the unpardonable sin. For example, a man may have divorced many years ago. Since then, he may or may not have remarried, and lived an exemplary and mature Christian life. This man may now enjoy a godly marriage, raising children who love the Lord, or still be single. When we take the man’s total life experience into consideration, the divorce should not disqualify him from consideration as a deacon.
- Good manager of his children (1 Tim. 3:12). The deacon’s children must bring honor to their parents. This demonstrates that the deacon and his wife have encouraged order and loving discipline in their home. However, these principles do not suggest that the deacon must raise “perfect” children. To require such a standard would render no father qualified to be a deacon. If a man has raised or is raising children who love the Lord, he will also have the ability to encourage holiness among the rest of God’s children.
- Good manager of his own household (1 Tim. 3:12). The deacon must be committed to the task of being a good steward of his household. He must provide spiritual, emotional, and financial leadership of his home. If he cannot be a good manager of his own household, he is not qualified to assist in the management of the church.
In order to serve effectively, deacons are expected to live out the above qualifications according to the following general guidelines:
- Be faithful in participation at all scheduled and called Deacon Meetings.
- If you are called to serve as a deacon, you have an obligation to be a “team member” and be diligent to attend meetings. Meetings will only be called for the purpose of serving the church and fulfilling the needs of the Deacon Ministry. Failure to attend implies a lack of commitment and respect for your fellow deacons, elders, and the needs of the church.
- If you cannot attend a scheduled meeting, one of the members of the Deacon Coordination Team (DCT) should be notified of your absence.
- Be accountable to fellow deacons in your service as a deacon.
- Encourage one another in service as deacons.
- Be a team member and support the overall ministry of deacons.
- Support fully the HHBC Purpose Statement, the Principles of Ministry Statement, and the Constitution and Bylaws.
- When appropriate, maintain the confidentiality of matters discussed at Deacon Meetings.
- Deacons and wives are one; therefore, wives are expected to keep confidential sensitive subjects related to deacon matters.
- Support the church financially as God leads you.
- Support the elders and staff with your encouragement and prayers.
- Serve the membership as God leads you; be sensitive to the needs of others.
- Encourage unity within the body; be an encourager, not a discourager.
- Be an example to members of the body by exemplifying the qualifications of a deacon and the heart of a servant.
- Give priority to spiritual growth as an individual, a couple, and your children.
Section 4—Term of Service
As indicated in 1 Timothy 3:10, a deacon’s call to service is not limited to a specific time period. A qualified man who has been called to serve as a deacon at HHBC may do so indefinitely in successive one year terms, unless, and until, one of the following occurs:
- He is no longer a member of HHBC.
- He is no longer called or qualified to serve as a deacon.
- He is no longer able to serve for some other reason.
Term of Office
The initial term of office of deacon shall be one year. Consecutive terms are acceptable and encouraged, for those who are serving well as deacons. At the completion of their one-year term of service, with the recommendation of the DCT and the deacon’s affirmation that God’s leading is for them to continue serving as an active deacon, the DCT will present the names of those deacons, whom they recommend to continue to serve, to the Elder Council for concurrence. Deacons recommended and approved for continuance of active service will not require reaffirmation by a vote of the membership. Following any lapse of service by a deacon, the procedures stated in Section 4 of the Bylaws for reaffirmation will be followed for return to active service.
Discipline and Removal
A deacon may be removed from active service upon failure to meet the qualifications stated in Article VI, Section 3 of the Bylaws or for reasons as stated in Article IV, Section 10, Discipline and Removal. Removal of a deacon from active service other than by completion of a term of service or resignation shall be by action of the Elder Council at the recommendation of the DCT.
Section 5—Selection and Ordination Procedures
The Elder Council periodically will ask the church to identify men for potential service as deacons.
The Deacon Mentoring Process
In keeping with biblical instruction outlined in 1 Timothy 3:10, HHBC believes that a deacon nominee should be fully “tested” (or “proven”), both in Christian maturity and in doctrinal soundness. The objective of the Deacon Mentoring Program is to ensure that HHBC’s deacons are fully aware of the importance of the biblical office, and to develop them to full fitness for the effective service that is called for. It is further designed to assure that any prospective deacon fully satisfies the qualifications of the office, not only in his own eyes, but also in the eyes of other people, both members and non-members of the church. The questions here will focus attention on many of the questions and discussions that a deacon may incur.
The process outlined here will allow for: (1) the selection process, (2) the determination of the nominee’s interest and willingness to serve, (3) the evaluation of his qualifications, and (4) the evaluation of his grasp on basic beliefs of the church.
I. Selection (Time Frame: 10-30 days, depending upon meeting times of DCT)
Name Submission. Prospective deacon names may be submitted to the DCT by members of the church, the church staff, other deacons, or the Elder Council. The only prerequisite for a church member to be nominated for selection as a deacon is that he has exhibited a desire and an ability to serve others for Christ and continues to do so. It is preferred that the person being nominated should not be approached until after the DCT has done the initial evaluation. By adhering to this concept, both the nominee and the nominator may avoid embarrassing situations. At the proper time, the DCT will determine the best method and person to approach the nominee.
Confidential Investigation. The DCT will privately submit all nominees’ names for comment by appropriate people on the staff, within the deacon body, on the Elder Council, or within the HHBC membership.
II. Interest Determination (Time Frame: 15-30 days)
Letter Inquiry. The initial contact with the nominee will be by letter. Not only will it inquire about his interest and willingness to serve, it will also invite him to a personal interview by all or select members of the DCT.
Initial Interview. The servant’s role as a deacon will be presented, the various deacon ministries explained, and the training program outlined. The qualifications will be stressed. A decision to pursue the training may be obtained at this time, but may also be delayed by the DCT or by the nominee to allow for prayerful consideration.
Report to Elders. Absent a decision not to proceed with the Mentoring Program, the DCT will submit the list of candidates to the Elder Council along with any others, thereby informing the Elder Council who will be in the Deacon Mentoring Class.
III. The Mentoring Process (Time Frame: 180 days)
During the mentoring process, the candidate will attend scheduled deacon meetings. He will also be assigned to an existing deacon who will utilize the services of the mentoree in practical, hands-on training:
- Formal Text Study: A schedule will be set for the study and discussion of Alexander Strauch’s book, The New Testament Deacon. Other texts may be substituted at the will of the DCT and the Elder Council.
- Second Interview: An interview of the candidate and his spouse, if any, will be conducted by at least two members of the DCT, at least one of whom is an elder. The purpose will be to ensure the support and understanding of the spouse in the undertaking of this ministry, and to answer any questions they may have.
- Basic Beliefs Review: After the second interview, the candidate will be given the list of questions that he will be requested to answer. The nominee will be encouraged to discuss any question with his mentor, any member of the DCT, or any staff member. It is not the intention to convert the candidate into a highly-qualified teacher, but to prepare the nominee and to amplify the importance for any officer of the church to be able to “give a defense of the faith,” at least in conversational terms.
IV. Final Interview
After completion of all the assigned work, members of the DCT (and at least one elder) will conduct a final interview. The Beliefs Questionnaire may be discussed, as well as the candidate’s feeling regarding the call to service.
V. Ordination Proceeding
Immediately after the Final Interview, the DCT will make a formal recommendation to the Elder Council. Upon the approval of the Elder Council, the candidate’s name will be recommended to the church for ordination. As with elder selection, a period will be set aside for membership commentary. If no material impediments are encountered, the names will be submitted for vote by the church (per the HHBC Bylaws). Shortly after a successful vote, the elders will ordain the Deacon for service in the presence of the church membership. Deacons will be invited to participate in the laying on of hands.
Section 6—Deacon Coordination Team
The Deacon Coordination Team (DCT) is the leadership arm of the deacon body and is responsible for the overall direction and coordination of all Deacon Ministries. The DCT acts as the primary point of contact between the deacon body, the Elder Council, and the pastoral staff. An elder will serve as the Deacon Facilitator. At least one other elder and as many deacons as the Deacon Facilitator and the DCT believes advisable will serve on the DCT. The DCT should include at least one staff elder. Someone (either elder or deacon) other than the Deacon Facilitator will serve as Deacon Secretary. The Elder Council will select the elder members of the DCT. Once the DCT is established by the Elder Council, the DCT will recommend any deacons it desires to add to the DCT to the Elder Council for approval. Duration of service on the DCT will be as determined by the Elder Council.
Function and Responsibilities
- Helps the DCT cast vision for the Deacon Ministry at HHBC.
- Schedules and presides over all DCT and deacon meetings. The Deacon Facilitator may designate another DCT member to preside in his absence.
- Keeps the Deacon Body informed.
- Works with the Elder Council Facilitator to develop agendas for DCT and deacon meetings.
- Facilitates communication between deacons and elders.
- Works with staff elder.
- Maintains a written record of DCT and deacon meeting proceedings.
- Maintains a file of all deacon documents. This includes, but is not limited to, the Deacon Handbook, Deacon Procedure Statements, and DCT/Deacon Meeting Minutes.
Section 7—Deacon Sabbatical Policy
It is understood that deaconship is a rigorous duty. From time to time, deacons may take sabbaticals at their own request or at the suggestion of the Deacon Coordinating Team (DCT). During such absences, the deacon will be completely free from the deaconship duties, and will not receive meeting materials or other information.
A sabbatical is never punitive. It is always taken with the goal and the assumption that the deacon will return to full service at its conclusion. Therefore, the deacons should have a loving, supportive position towards sabbaticals. To do this, the DCT will assign at least two other deacons to act as a support team. This will be done with the consent of the deacon going on sabbatical. The role of the support team is to assist the deacon with prayer and fellowship through the process of resolving the issue that precipitated the sabbatical. It is expected that the support team will meet with the deacon on a regular basis throughout the sabbatical. It is totally appropriate for the support team to make periodic reports to the DCT on the progress the deacon is making. Once the issue is resolved and the deacon on sabbatical requests to resume a full active role as a deacon, the support team will report to the DCT that the sabbatical should be ended and the deacon should be returned to full service.
In all cases, the return of the deacon to full service will be preceded by an interview with at least two deacons who will be assigned to explore the sabbatical deacon’s current situation, ensure that the issues that called for the sabbatical have been resolved, and to recommend that a return to full service is appropriate.
For the purpose of complying with the Constitution and Bylaws of the church, a deacon on sabbatical may be included on the list of those recommended to continue to serve as a deacon which is presented annually to the elders. Such deacons will be designated as active/sabbatical. It is expected that a sabbatical is a temporary status and that a deacon will return to full service prior to appearing on the recommended-to-serve list as active/sabbatical a second time. No deacon on sabbatical shall be on said list for two consecutive years, without unanimous consent by the DCT and subsequent concurrence of the elders. Deacons who have not returned to full service by such time will be subject to requalification and reaffirmation as described in Article VI, Section 4.
Prior to the first deacon meeting that the returning deacon attends, he will share his heart with the DCT, be prayed over, and welcomed back into full service.
Approved by Elder Council 10/7/08
Section 8—Specific Deacon Ministries
A clear distinction is to be drawn between Deacon Ministries (those which follow logically from the Deacon Mission Statement) and other ministries in which individual deacons may have historically participated or currently participate. An individual deacon may serve in any church ministry, but that does not necessarily make it a Deacon Ministry. For example, a deacon may sing in the choir, however the choir is not a Deacon Ministry.
The diaconate, as a whole, is to be visionary. Although deacons carry out ministries prescribed by the elders, they should also be proactive, self-motivating, and self-starting mobilizers for ministry, focusing upon service-driven inreach to the church and outreach to the community.
- All Deacon Ministries are to operate under the authority and oversight of the Elder Council, but deacons are encouraged and empowered by the elders to originate ideas for ministry and to participate in the earliest planning stages of certain ministries. The elders will also utilize the resources of the diaconate in their own visionary undertakings. A ministry idea could be generated by the elders and brought to the DCT for implementation, or it could originate with the deacons and be brought to the elders for approval and oversight. This requires a relationship of cooperation and trust between the deacon and elder bodies.
Specific ministries of the deacons include, but are not exclusive to:
- Nursing Homes
- Worship Service Visitors/Prospective Members
- New Members
- Widows/Orphans/Children of Single Parents
- Single Parents: Skills-Directed Services
- Deacon Benevolence
- Angel Tree
- Budget Counseling
- Prayer Ministry: The Burdens of the Church
- Lord’s Supper and Baptism
- Invitation Counseling
- BodyLife/Discovery Classes
- Church Missions
- Organizing/Coordinating Concerts/Conferences
Deacon’s Benevolence Philosophy, Purpose and Principles
The Word of God directed His church in the Old and New Testament to show God’s love and mercy to the world and especially to the brethren by generously loving those who are in need.
Scriptural Passages: Deut. 15:8, 10; 2 Tim. 6:18; 1 John 3:17; 1 Cor. 13:1-3; James 2:15, 16; Matt. 25:25-40; and Gal. 6:7-10.
The purpose of the Deacon’s Fund is to assist families, both inside and outside HHBC, when they are burdened with financial needs.
The deacon body, through the Benevolence Fund, tries to assist our church members and others who are experiencing financial problems. This is accomplished by making financial gifts to the Benevolence Fund. Expenditures are based on the availability of funds at the time of application.
Definition of Need: When a person lacks the finances to meet the basic necessities of life, as listed below:
- Shelter (mortgage, rent, utilities)
- Medical care (doctor, prescriptions)
- Investigate the need from the people involved.
- Prov. 27:23 “Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds.” (Personalities, victories, needs, etc.)
- Ezek. 34:1-5 “Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, thus says the Lord God, Woe shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock.” “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.” “And they were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered.” (A good shepherd spends little time with healthy sheep but rather is always busy seeking the lost ones—tending the sick ones—and binding the hurt ones.)
- We will give cheerfully and generously to meet the needs of the people, especially believers.
- Prov. 3:27-28 “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.”
- Prov. 22:9 “He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor.”
- Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the most high; for he himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.”
- Acts 4:32-35 “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of lands or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet; and they would be distributed to each, as any had need.”
- Acts 20:35 “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
- We are commanded not to provide food to the sluggard who will not work.
- 2 Thes. 3:10 “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.”
- 1 Thes. 4:11 “And to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you;”
- 2 Thes. 3:11-12 “For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in a quiet fashion and eat their own bread.”
- A family should take care of the needs of its family members.
- 1 Tim. 5:8 “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.”
- Eph. 6:2 “Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”
- The Christian has all he needs for contentment if he has the basic necessities of life.
- Phil. 4:11-12 “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”
- 1 Tim. 6:8 “And if we have food and covering, with those we shall be content.”
- Heb. 13:5 “Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”
- The person must be employable and willing to work before we devote effort to locate employment possibilities.
- Eph. 4:28 “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”
- Matt. 7:7-8 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks it shall be opened.”
- Widows should be cared for by their families. The church is responsible to provide for certain widows without families.
- 1 Tim. 5:3-16 “Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family, and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Let a widow be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man. Having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work.”
- Loans are permissible, but are the exception. A loan may be better than a gift in certain cases where a gift may bruise his self-esteem or fellowship with HHBC. Some reasons for offering a loan would be: Person not willing to sell assets, being disciplined by elders, or too particular in choosing employment.
- Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return …”
- Lev. 25:35-37 “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. You shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.”
- Deut. 23:19 “You shall not charge interest to your countrymen; interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest.”
- The need may be much more than financial. Be sensitive to the root cause of the need. Counseling may be required.
Deacon’s Benevolence Fund Processes and Procedures
The Deacon Benevolence Team
The Deacon Benevolence Team has the primary responsibility for the administration of the Benevolence Fund. All recommendations and disbursements shall be made by members of the team. The team will consist of four to six deacons with one serving as facilitator. The team will work closely with an elder who acts as a liaison to the Elder Council as well as provides guidance. The facilitator will be responsible for writing all checks and letters and assist with recommendations. Each team member will be on-call one week at a time. This responsibility will rotate between all team members except the facilitator. During this week, he will be the primary contact for the church staff and will investigate and make recommendations on all applications received.
The team will also work closely with the Pastor on Call (POC). Guidelines have been developed for the POC in disbursing or committing benevolence funds. These guidelines are included at the end of the Appendix.
Investigating the need (Refer to Principle 1)
A written request must be obtained at the church office during regular business hours (8:00-5:00, M-F). This request must be submitted to the church office during regular business hours. This request will be submitted to the team for review and processing. The process could take seven to ten days to be completed. A completed application with accurate information will hasten the process. A copy of all bills must also be attached to the Application for Assistance. The team will consider payments for basic needs such as housing, utilities, medical, and other needs associated with living a normal life.
Based on availability of funds, the Team, with concurrence of the elder, will address all requests received. Church members with financial needs will be considered first. Non-church members will be considered if funds are available, based on recommendations from staff members.
A. HHBC Members
- Determine if the person is in a flock. If so, contacting the person’s flock leader, staff pastor and/or elder may provide additional information and details to help with the recommendation. The deacons may then:
- Ask the individual’s flock leader, staff pastor and/or elder for more input and details.
- Investigate the need themselves if they deem it necessary or are asked to by the individual’s flock leader, staff pastor and/or elder, especially when financial irresponsibility has occurred.
- Disburse funds based on the report of the individual’s flock leader, staff pastor and/or elder.
- Sometimes, the applicant will be referred to a Money Map Coach or other financial counseling. Following the review, one of three recommendations could be made: 1) Help this one time; 2) Help with this request and additional help will also be required next month(s); or 3) Decline help at this time.
- Decline help.
- On any request from a third party on behalf of another person, the third party should be consulted for his input before any decision regarding the use of the Benevolence Fund. After a decision has been reached, the third party should be informed of the decision by whoever (flock leader, staff pastor and/or elder) is best equipped to handle such a response. Since they did not ask for help we need to choose our questions carefully. This can easily be misinterpreted as meddling.
- If a decision is made to deny use of the Benevolence Fund in a particular situation, we recommend not encouraging our people to give individually.
B. Non-HHBC Members
- The church staff will take the person’s name and phone number and consult with a team member. Under no circumstances should a deacon’s telephone number (or personal information) be given out. After consulting with the team member who may need to also consult with the elder, the church staff will either have the individual fill out an application or inform the individual we will not be able to help at this time.
- A team member will return the call (by dialing *67 then the number which allows the calling person’s number to be blocked) and gather some information about the need. If the person has no phone (transients), then some other arrangements must be made:
- Investigate over the phone with them at church.
- Meet at the church at a convenient time.
- Call them at another phone at a specified time, etc.
- If the applicant cannot be reached by phone and an appointment is necessary, a second team member should be involved to meet the applicant in person, preferably at the church office facilities during normal office hours. Deacons should avoid going alone, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. Deacons should use their first names only for confidentiality (except when dealing with responsible people in other agencies).
- The two deacons are always to pray for wisdom, discernment and sensitivity prior to the appointment. Ask questions and make observations during the appointment in order to make a proper assessment of the particular need in question. Document the information on a Deacon’s Fund Questionnaire form. After investigating a case together, excuse yourself from the person(s), compare observations, and make a decision. In the case of a couple, try to talk with both of them together and then separately to get a more complete picture of the need.
- Determine the legitimacy of the need
- Is it a true financial need? The fund is strictly for financial needs—usually a one-time situation assistance fund. However, situations will arise which will require ongoing assistance; i.e., widow with no family.
- If they lie to you, do not help them.
- Are they exhausting their possibilities to take care of the need themselves? What church do they go to? Have they asked that church? Where do they live? Recommend churches close to their home. Are they asking their parents, relatives for help, eagerly looking for employment? If not, postpone or refuse financial assistance.
C. Business Assistance
- The Benevolence Fund is not intended to be used to assist a business that has fallen on hard times. It may be used to assist the family with its basic living expenses.
Disbursements of the Benevolence Fund—(Refer to Principle 2)
- If the need is cash, discernment and discretion must be used. Church members and non-church members may be treated differently with this request. For church members, a gift card for food, gas or household needs may be given to the applicant. The use of gift cards to non-church members is highly discouraged. We lose control of how the money will be spent when we give cash. Be a faithful steward—Luke 12:48, “ … and from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”
- If the need is a utility bill, car payment, medical bill, housing expense, etc., make the check payable directly to the company involved with proper notation regarding account number. This may be a humbling, embarrassing experience for some people. Assure them that this is our policy and in no way reflects on the integrity of their money management.
- For help with gas or electric utility bills:
- Hope Center – 348-1340
- Salvation Army – 270-7844
- DHS – 739-8000
- At the church office, there is a petty cash box for limited cash or gift card assistance for walk-ins. Money for this box comes from the Benevolence Fund and is issued by the pastor on call or by an elder. This can be used for gas or a meal. If the need is for gas money (transportation) then lead them to a nearby gas station and fill their car. Obtain a receipt when cash is spent for a need.
- If the need is for temporary shelter, contact:
- Hope Center – 348-1340
- Salvation Army – 270-7844
- Jesus House
- Shelter for Battered Women
- A reasonably priced motel (the Stratford House). Make the church’s check payable to the motel. See if they will offer a room free if the TV is being repaired. It has happened!
- Disbursement Limits—One-Time (First) Request
- Team members’ limit
- HHBC member—$500 (includes the approximate value of everything done for the individual).
- Non-HHBC member—$250
- This is for a ONE-TIME assistance. If the individuals come back for additional assistance, the individual must avail themselves of financial counseling by one of the following agencies/programs:
- Financial Freedom Ministry
- Money Map Coach
- Crown Ministries
- Team Facilitator’s limit
- HHBC member—$750 (After consultation with the team member)
- Non-HHBC member—$400
- Team members’ limit