Thursday, June 16, 2011

Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor and Needy--Do You Have the Tools Necessary?

Teena has been my long time friend and critique partner, as well as someone who has co-authored columns with me. We have been in a group of friends/writers for many years and know each other's secrets, pains and joys. Not only is she gifted in many areas of writing and art, but she and her pastor husband, Jeff, have been involved with ministries their whole married life and now are running the innovative Java Journey, a coffee house ministry in Hickory, North Carolina full of life, art, music and people. If you're in the neighborhood, do stop by! (Tell 'em Crystal sent you!) 
She just published another book with Beacon Hill Press called Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor and Needy, and she also will give away a copy to one commentator here, which I will draw from on this blog. Leave your questions and comments below and your contact email and this weekend I'll draw one name to give to Teena (she will send it out early next month.) If you have trouble posting, email me at crystal.mrsinewaATgmailDOTcom with your email and comment and I'll enter you and send your comment to Teena. YOU MUST sign your comment if sent by email. Please leave your email on comments below.

Many people want to help others, but do not always have the know-how of what to do. Ministry or benevolence teams go through many starts and stutters, burning out in the process, and Teena has much experience in how to avoid pitfalls and well-intentioned mishaps. This book will help you, your church or group to find ways to minister in effective and healthy ways. I asked her some questions to help us to understand just what it's all about.
Author and My Friend, Teena M. Stewart

In Benevolence, Teena Stewart shows us how to start a benevolence reserve in a church, helps us recognize charity opportunities, considers how different ministries can work together, and gives us ideas on how to manage those benevolence opportunities and ministries. With this book, learn everything you need to know about starting and keeping a ministry going.

Teena realizes, and points out in this book, that benevolence is a practiced, harnessed skill and one that needs accountability, and will change our lives. The truth is that we do have the capabilities, organization, and passion to start a benevolence ministry; it's just a matter of keeping it.

Crystal:  What motivated you to write this book?

Teena: At the time this book was conceived I was on staff at Northgate Christian Fellowship Church in the San Francisco Bay area. I saw the needs of the hurting and broken as they came in or called in and how they were handled.  I also helped organize a special event where we coordinated multiple opportunities for our church members to get involved in area charities and service projects. I learned volumes.

People often want to help the needy or local charities but do not know who to help, or how to go about it in a healthy way. Individuals might give money to someone in need in order to cleanse their conscience but without thought to whether it will truly help them or not. I am a natural encourager and equipper and I wanted to share my knowledge regarding how individuals and churches could have a positive impact on helping hurting people.

CLM:  Why should we care about the poor and needy?

TMS:  Many people claim to follow the teachings of Christ. A sign of Christian maturity is our willingness to look beyond our own needs to care for the needs of others. Scripture references more than 2,000 passages regarding the poor and needy.  Giving back is clearly important to God.  
Teena (third from left) has been a part of service and ministry since she was small. This is Teena's Baptist GA group as a young girl

CLM:  What has your present work for a women’s rescue mission taught you about helping the needy?

TMS:  I have worked in a number of capacities at Safe Harbor Rescue Mission in Hickory, NC, most currently as their Resource Warehouse and Gallery Director. The experience has been amazing. I’ve learned so many things. First, that sometimes people have landed in difficult life circumstances because they had no choice. Some have had really difficult upbringings. In other cases it is because of poor choices. Sometimes they remain broken or in need because of emotional illness or physical disabilities. It has taught me to look at the underprivileged and hurting with new eyes. It used to be I would see a homeless person and think, “why don’t you just get a job?” Now I look at them and consider the myriad of things that may have brought them to that point.  I’ve also learned how many hands it takes to turn one life around.

CLM:  Tell us a little more about your book.

TMS:  I spent a lot of time interviewing different people involved in benevolence ministry for this book. So you will find those accounts in the book. The book also includes advice for developing benevolence teams and boards, sample mission statements of charitable ministries, guidelines, policies and procedures for handling benevolence needs, resources, outreach ideas, promotional ideas. It also has an appendix of benevolence resources, and chapter questions to help readers reflect on best benevolence practices related to benevolence ministry.

CLM What is the exact book title and where can people purchase it?

Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor and Needy by Teena M. Stewart
TMS:  It is called Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor and Needy by Teena M. Stewart (Beacon Hill, 2011) and you can find it at most book stores including online entities such as or on the Nazarene Press website .( It is available after June 1, 2011.)

 TEENA M. STEWART has served in ministry leadership for years, most recently at Northgate Christian Fellowship in Benicia, California and at Java Journey Coffee Shop Ministry in Hickory, North Carolina  where she and her husband, Jeff, an ordained minister, currently serve in market place ministry. Stop in for discussions on all of life's issues and a good cup of coffee your way!
Teena's published articles have appeared in Leadership, Discipleship Journal, Ministry Magazine and many other publications. Book credits include Successful Small Groups from Concept to Practice (Beacon Hill), co-authoring The World's Easiest Pocket Guide to Money and Marriage with Jeff Stewart and Larry Burkett and contributions to several anthologies, most recently Follow Your Dreams (Thomas Nelson.)

For more info on Teena's writing visit where she has also designed logos for writers, web sites and can do any writing services.

Teena is also an artist and jewelry designer. Visit her art website at I happen to own several of her jewelry pieces, which are beautiful! Do go check this out and do contact Teena if you'd like to commission a piece of jewelry or art.

In addition, she has used her administrative and creative skills to oversee and launch Safe Harbor Rescue Mission's Resource Warehouse and Gallery.

The Java Journey 2011 from Jeff Stewart on Vimeo.


Wendy Lawton said...

Teena knows what she's talking about! I love authors who live what they write about.

Linda Glaz said...

How can we not care and call ourselves Christians?

Story and Logic Media Group said...

This book sounds like something that should be in every church library. Or in someone's library in every church.

Christa Sterken said...

I was just reading about this in my morning devotionals and hoping God would send me some direction. Then,I saw the post from a writing friend and was delighted for such a fast response. Looks important as subject matter, and certainly timely!

lorlyn63 said...

I am always looking for ways I can be of help to others and would enjoy reading this book - thank you for the interview! It sounds like a really good read!

Teena Stewart said...

I learned a lot while writing the book about what God says regarding helping others. Now, if I can just put it into practice.

Christine Lindsay said...

This is an issue that the Lord has been really making me more aware of these past few years---to give generously to His Kingdom and people who are hurting. I'm so glad you've written your book. We as Christians need to be inspired to give until it hurts.

Christine Lindsay said...

I guess I should throw my name into the hat to win.


Crystal Laine said...

I THOUGHT I would have internet when my husband and I went away for our 30th wedding anniversary. Alas, no. So, sorry for the delay in announcing who won the book drawing!

I'll be contacting Lorlynn. And because I love Teena's book so much, I will be also sending the second person I drew--Christa--a copy of the book, too, that I purchased. Thanks so much, all of you, for your comments! :)