Church Giving

One of my least favorite things in which to participate, at any church, is a fund raising campaign.

If they are put on by an external committee or a fund raising team from the denomination they are often worse than awful. Here’s my list of beefs:

  1. They often utilize fliers that misrepresent Scripture. Often with quotes like this, “Are you going to build a house for me to inhabit?” 2 Samuel 7:5
  2. They take up a great deal of church service time that is explicitly designated for Word and Sacrament (or Ordinance if you’re Baptist).
  3. A great deal of stake is put on them that makes them a time of tremendous stress on pastors, deacon boards, and committed families.
  4. They feed into an event rather than Scripture/discipleship oriented church calendar.
  5. Giving is treated as a sort of supernatural transaction.

Now then, here’s the problem. Churches, particularly Baptist or non-denominational churches, are funded almost entirely by the local membership. Thus, giving must, at certain times be increased. But how can a church do this as a part of the process of discipleship rather than merely as a project of the current leadership?

Here are my thoughts:

  1. A church could move in the direction of treating the morning services as a time for discipleship (training people how to do everything Jesus taught Matthew 28:19-20) rather than programming designed purely to invite new people.
  2. In so doing, giving could then be taught about, not as a weird supernatural transaction between God and the giver, but as a way of sustaining the church community in actual human history. In other words, giving is covenantal with a concern about the traditions of the past (the message of Scripture), the present situation (people who need to eat and to know the gospel), and the future (whatever that may be).
  3. In this respect, the church, as an institution and as a people, would be able to focus on money in relationship to the teachings of Jesus. People who are learning to be frugal and generous would also be those in charge of the church’s finances. Thus the teaching about money from the pulpit and in Sunday school would not only be a begrudging moment wherein people are shamed into supporting a new building. Instead, handling money would be one part of the whole Christian life: being less worldly, more generous, more hospitable, and a part of a community (the church) that must function in a real world economy.
  4. So, if giving to the church took a back seat to the goal of training people to be like Jesus and to use their finances wisely, it would seem that capital campaigns and other such things could be done away with.

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