Every congregation has visitors who show up after services are over asking for money to help them through a moment of financial crisis. In those moments congregational leaders often find themselves caught in an awkward situation, scrambling around, and trying to decide what to do. Sometimes the crisis story seems a bit far fetched and other times it is difficult to know the best thing to do.
If you have ever found yourself in such a situation, I would recommend you get a copy of Helping Without Hurting In Church Benevolence by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Helping Without Hurting is designed to address the exact situation previously described.
Though Corbett and Fikkert have a Social Gospel approach to evangelism, and though that approach permeates their book, there are still many helpful suggestions congregational leaders can use in helping determine if a person is in need and what their most pressing needs are.
One of best parts of the book is the Inventory Checklist provided to go through with people seeking assistance. The checklist is three pages long and requires the person to do a number of self-evaluation checks, disclose their support system (or lack thereof), and provide contact information to verify their story and situation. If a person is not willing to complete the inventory checklist, it is likely they are not interested in the type of help that the church is able and willing to provide. The inventory checklist by itself is worth the price of the book and will be very useful for congregational leaders in assessing who and how to help.
Helping Without Hurting is a follow up book to When Helping Hurts which deals with poverty alleviation techniques with an emphasis on foreign mission works. Church leaders involved with low income families or mission works in third world countries would greatly benefit from obtaining both books and considering them in light of Scripture.
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of either work, be sure to pick up a copy in our bookstore.