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A benefactor family is a household that is able to take care of the community and the church.

In the Bible, people like Jason, Lydia, and Gaius & Erastus are examples for us.  They met the needs of the Apostles, of the church, and the community around them.  These households had heads who were often business owners or public officials.  Sometimes, they were wealthy families.

And sometimes, not so wealthy.

The point is that any one of us can build our families into benefactor families.  In doing so, we can take care of our cities, and our churches.  God used these people in great ways in the early church, and He’s going to continue to use them today.

But what does a benefactor family actually do?

Benefactor Families Provide Familial Stability to the Community

benefactor family travelling mountainIf there is one thing that has decreased significantly over the course of the past 100 years in the U.S., it is family stability.  Our families have fallen apart through divorce, abuse, co-habitation, children out of wedlock, absent fathers (or mothers for that matter), and on and on.

Our culture is in a grievous pain because of this pit we’ve fallen into.

But like a light in the darkness, benefactor families provide familial stability, when a large portion of Americans don’t even know what stability looks like.

They build strong relationships within the household and show that homes can actually be filled with structure and love.

They order themselves according to what theologians have called the Haustafeln (Household Codes).  This term, which many say Martin Luther coined, is the organizational structure prescribed by important, and clear passages about family relationships in the New Testament.

Not only do benefactor families model proper structure and love to their neighborhoods, they also can teach what strong, faithful homes should be doing.

Strive to be an established family like this and offer that stability to others.

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Benefactor Families Provide Financial Stability to the Community

It’s not that benefactor families have to be really wealthy.  It’s that they understand the priorities of “Life to the Full” – building investments for eternity through good works, serving the church, serving the lost around them, participating in the mission of the church.

And then they make financial decisions which support those priorities.

Rather than spending money on boats, mansions, and whatever else you’d consider lavish (not that boats and mansions are necessarily bad), benefactor families build wealth strategically.  And this is so that they can be more generous.

When they have financial skills to save, give, and invest, they can also teach those same things to others in the community.

These kinds of choices are not easy, it takes discipline, perseverance, as well as learning new skills.  But make the priorities of Scripture the priorities of your own family.

Benefactor Families Provide Services to the Community

In 1 Timothy 5:9-10, we see that the church was to honor widows (most agree this means honoring them financially) if they lived their lives a certain way.  Among the list are that they were “well known for their good deeds,” “showing hospitality,” and “helping those in trouble”.

Now, this passage is about widows, but these lifestyles are pleasing to God, and should define the lives of benefactor families, too.

In short, these households meet urgent needs in the community.  They get to know their neighbors and help them when necessary.  They volunteer their time in initiatives which serve the needy, and sometimes lead those initiatives.  They have strangers into their home and take care of them.

This one is a very big challenge.  Especially since this is not a common lifestyle in our country.  But it is biblical, and it is what benefactor families do.  Make this a part of your household.

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Benefactor Families are Strong in the Church

Photo credit: mayrpamintuan via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Photo credit: mayrpamintuan via Foter.com / CC BY-ND

The examples from above – Jason, Lydia, and Gaius & Erastus – are among a handful of other people who served as models for this idea of benefactor.

And what we see from them was that their primary responsibility was serving the church.

So first of all, they had to be (or at least soon become) established in the faith and be involved in the life of the church.  Their hospitality stemmed from a love for God and for the brothers and sisters in faith.

They had to understand that the church is actually just one big household, one big family, which has its own household code.  Their stability, structure, and financial abilities is tied to the stability, structure, and financial abilities of the church.

Secondly, their service was aimed at meeting the needs of (1) the needy in the church, and (2) those who were focusing more time and energy on direct work in the mission of the church.

The former is pretty self-explanatory.

The latter would mean taking care of people like Paul and his team-members.  Letting them stay at their houses.  Financially providing for them (whether they work to become self-enterprising ministers or not).  Giving toward the logistic/practical needs of the mission.  Meeting urgent needs in the mission.

This section, like all the others in this article, requires great sacrifice.  But we take up our cross and follow Him, right?  Our lives are not our own, neither are our houses, finances or even our families.  They belong to God.

So let’s use everything He’s given us to become benefactor families who can effectively take care of our communities and our churches.

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