A few months ago I wrote a newsletter article on why we should have a church budget. Well, the congregation has voted and we now have a 2012 budget. As the new year begins, we have the responsibility of supporting that budget. I am confident we can do so if we give according to the following Biblical principles.
To support the budget, we must give sacrificially. The Bible speaks over and over of sacrifices being offered to God. These sacrifices were not cheap, and they were not leftovers after all other needs and desires were met. They were the first-fruits, a tenth from the top of what the land produced. Tithing of our finances may seem overwhelming for some of us, but I have never known anyone who tithes whom God did not bless even more abundantly in return. Tithing is a step of faith financially. If you still are not ready to give a tithe, then increase the percentage of your giving. Statistics indicate the average Christian gives just over 2% of his income to God. We can do better.
To support the budget, we must give freely. Most of us would not consider something received from a family member or a friend a true gift if “strings were attached.” If we had to use the item in a certain way as a condition of what was given, then it would be more like an agreement or a lease than a gift. When we shared gifts this past Christmas, we gave them to one another freely. Once the items are in our possession, we can do with them whatever we desire – they were gifts. When it comes to church giving however, many Christians insist on giving with strings attached. The contributions are designated, indicating that the money can be spent only for a certain purpose. If that purpose is not actively being pursued by the church, then the funds just sit in a bank account while other pressing needs go unmet and vital ministries go unfunded. Giving freely not only helps church leaders direct funds to where they are needed most to support the budget, it also allows us to relinquish control. Serving God is all about surrendering control of our lives and trusting His sovereignty and providence. Designated giving seeks to maintain control of the funds contributed, and deprives us of surrendering to God’s purpose, which may not be the same as our own. In short, designated giving hinders us from supporting the day-to-day church budget that is vital to everyone.
To support the budget, we must give consistently. Due to increasingly complicated work schedules and family responsibilities, many of us aren’t able to attend church as regularly as we would like. The vast majority of us only give when we are in worship, so if we aren’t in worship we skip our giving until the next time we are present. The financial needs of the church however, aren’t suspended when we are absent. In Biblical times giving was a consistent practice, not sporadic. If we can’t be in church consistently, we can still give consistently. We can mail our offerings to the church office, as several of our shut-ins and non-resident members do already. We also can make arrangements through our online banking to send recurrent contributions to FBC Nitro, just as we would with other regular, ongoing expenditures.
There is no better time than the present, at the beginning of a brand new year, to change your pattern of giving. Will you commit to giving of your finances sacrificially, freely, and consistently? “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, …and thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need” (Malachi 3:10).