The Spring 2013 issue of Leadership Journal has an interesting article by Amie Streater entitled, “Why Give to the Local Church?”. Some of her observations are reproduced for you below.
There are lots of great ministries out there, but giving to your local church is still essential. With so many excellent causes to give to, why should people give to their local church?
The truth is no matter where you live, there’s no shortage of opportunities for Christians to give. Never have there been more charities and ministries spreading the gospel, feeding hungry children, digging wells, and providing medical services. Then there’s the local food pantry that always needs stocking, disaster-relief agencies asking for help, not to mention that someone is always pitching a sad story on Facebook, capped of course with a plea for everyone to help out “just a little.” Toss in a weak job market and tight budgets, and it’s easy to understand why people get giving fatigue.
This makes presenting the case for giving to the church all the more important. Outlined below are some of the reasons for giving to your local church.
- The church is a connection point for Christian living.
The employees, volunteers, and supporters of the Christian organizations in your city have one thing in common: they all go to church somewhere.
In our congregation, we feed them spiritually on Sunday mornings and physically throughout the week. We also serve as the hub for small groups, fellowship opportunities, and spiritual growth classes. We marry them, bury them, celebrate their anniversaries, pastor them through hardship, and live life with them.
Giving to the local church is not merely one good option among many. It’s an imperative for every Christian.
Church truly is a family. The church is also a hub to connect ministry services. Chances are you’ve connected with people on your local church staff that have the same passions you do. Those people can be a great resource to help you direct your offerings (money given over and above your tithe) to organizations that best carry out the work you are passionate about.
- Churches help identify those in need.
If you have someone at your church who is responsible for giving out the money that goes to people in need, they can help you disseminate money to those who should really be receiving it. They can also prevent you from falling prey to a scam or from jumping on the latest Internet bandwagon.
Giving to the church is an excellent way to ensure that your money gets to the people most in need. They work to filter out the shifty sob stories from the genuine need so you know your gifts are going to those who truly need them.
- Your church serves your community.
When a family in your church can’t pay their utility bill, where do they turn for help? To their home church. And when an unchurched family in the neighborhood needs food or money for gas, where are they going to go for help? Often the local church as well.
For all the food banks and social services out there, the local church is still the first place many people turn to in times of need. And that’s a blessing that we as a family of believers get to be a resource of love and compassion when people need it most.
- Your family deserves your support.
Church, like any organization, is a give-and-take operation. If you’re fed on Sunday mornings or pastored through crisis, you’re benefitting from your church. And that’s a good thing. You’re supposed to benefit from your church! But those things can’t happen without financial support.
That building and the land have to be purchased and maintained. The pastor and other staff need to be paid. The light bill has to be paid. Cleaning supplies, Bibles, chairs, and hymnals must be purchased. There’s work to do and things to buy.
If you’re volunteering, that’s great. Volunteering is important. But your volunteer labor, precious as it is, doesn’t keep the lights on or feed the poor.
If you’re part of the family, support the family.
- You don’t have to choose.
Malachi 3:8 distinguishes between tithes and offerings. Tithes are the gifts of the first 10 percent of our income. The Bible teaches this tithe should go to God’s “house.”
There are many different opinions on tithing, but I have yet to hear a convincing argument that, in our time, God’s house is not the local church. Offerings are gifts over and above the tithe. This is where discretionary giving comes in.
I’ll be the first to agree that we have to budget our giving. We have to be wise enough to live below our means so that we can give 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent, or more of our income away so that we can bless the work of the Lord in all its forms, through the ministries that matter to us.
The problem for most believers is not that they don’t have enough to give, it’s that they’re not wisely managing what they already have so that they can be generous with others.
If we live within our means and give generously both to the local church and to outside ministries, we will have more than enough to meet our families’ needs.
Luke 6:38 reminds us to “Give, and it will be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
That doesn’t mean that we give to get, or give just so God will bless us. It means living with a generous heart will be rewarded so that we can be a blessing to others. Supporting your local church will bless not only you and your family but your community as well.
Giving outside of your local church is where you get to see your specific ministry dreams come true. Giving with wisdom ends up blessing more people in more meaningful ways.
With God’s help, we can accomplish all of our goals for giving and also experience the joy Christ came to give us.