If you’ve been to church, chances are you’ve heard a request for money. For most people, even those who've been in church a while, questions about the hows and whys of giving money to the church come up. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding giving to a local church.
Why Should I Give?
The Church has always relied on its people to give money and resources to fund the operation and ministry of each local church. Though, most of our daily life is focused on keeping as much money as possible for ourselves and begrudgingly paying taxes, if required. God’s generosity to us, allows us to be generous with others. God’s character of generosity is reflected through us to a watching world.
At the beginning of history, God created the whole universe (Genesis 1:1), including the first humans, Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26). At that moment, God imparted his image and character in their design. Adam and Eve, by the very nature of God in them, were commanded to be generous. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it…” (Genesis 1:28). They were to spend their time and resources for the care of creation while walking hand-in-hand with their Creator.
Unfortunately, these first humans listened to a lie and believed they could be more like God if they disobeyed his commands. Ever since, the image and character of God was severely marred, both in them, and every human born after them. This condition is called sin. We prefer serving ourselves rather than freely giving ourselves in response to God.
However, God was not swayed. The relationship he created with Adam and Eve, though damaged by sin, would one day be restored in a most spectacular way. Jesus, God’s son, willingly died a criminal's death, even though he did not sin (Luke 22:33, Heb 4:15). He accepted our death sentence, giving his life instead of demanding ours (John 3:16). This radical substitution makes it possible for us to be reconciled to God (Rom 5:10).
We are now free to respond by believing in Jesus’ life-giving death for us. This generous free gift, once believed, restores the marred image of God in us and allows us to again walk hand-in-hand with him (2 Cor 6:1). We are then free to be generous from a heart (Luke 12:34) that wants to obey God’s command to love and care for the things that are important to him.
Giving to a local church is a non-selfish desire that comes directly from God’s restoring work in you through Jesus. Freely give out of that abundance of generosity.
Where does 10% Come From?
A tenth (10%), or a “tithe”, as it’s commonly referred to in the Old Testament, is first mentioned in Genesis 14 after Abraham was victorious in recovering his brother, Lot, from captivity. Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils to God (verse 20).
Many years later, God established his Law for the people of Israel through Moses, which included a more formal practice of tithing. There were 3 required tithes:
The primary tithe was given from the first and best of Israel’s crops and animals (Numbers 18:12) to support the Levites in their priestly work (Numbers 18:21).
A second tithe was given to support their annual feasts and festivals (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).
Every third year, they took a tithe for the poor among them (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
As the church today, we are not bound by the letter of the Old Testament Law, but we can learn from these requirements:
A tithe was given from the first and best. God gave his people an abundance of crops and livestock, and as an act of worship, they gave their first and best to God, not just leftovers.
The primary tithe (or 10%) was just the first requirement. There are times, when giving above and beyond the first gift (in Old Testament times it might be closer to 20%-30%, depending on the year) is necessary.
Each of these gifts benefited the giver and the people of their community -- their equivalent of church was funded, yearly celebrations of worship were made possible, and the poor among them received help.
Christians, since the time of Jesus, have made a practice of tithing. If you are not giving or are giving out of your “leftovers”, ask God to reveal areas of your heart you might treasure above him. Prayerfully consider, what giving from your first and best might look like for you. Jesus put it this way in Luke 12:24, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
How is Giving to the Local Church Different than Another charity?
Let’s be clear, generosity takes many forms, but generosity is never less than giving to a local church.
With the church being the primary means by which the mission of Jesus goes forward into our local communities and out to the world (Matt 16:18, 28:19), our first priority should be to make sure the local church is provided for.
Giving to the local church is important not only for the mission. Because later in the New Testament, we see several other responsibilities given to the church including care for those who are widows and orphans (James 1:27), provision for the elders to lead and shepherd the flock (1 Timothy 5:17), support for missionaries (Philippians 4:4-19), and the welfare of the community (in the pattern of Jesus from Luke 4:18-19), just to name a few.
When the church thrives, the mission of Jesus thrives. When the “good news” is proclaimed and people are loved by the church, something spectacular happens -- the hearts of the people of the church overflow with the same mission. When the local church thrives through generosity and wise stewardship, we are free to support all other charities that seek to benefit humankind in the name of Jesus.
What if I Don’t Have Much Money? Should I Still give?
If you're asking this question, chances are you're either in a tough financial position or have been through one in recent memory. Let me encourage you with words from Paul. In his 2nd letter to the Corinthian church he says, “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)
Paul commends the Corinthians to give what they are able, and assumes others will help fill in the gaps. We should too. If you’re struggling just to put food on the table, then we, as the church, should serve you rather than the other way around.
However, and this is crucial for us to understand, Paul also says “if the readiness is there...”. This assumes something about the motivations of our hearts. When we understand every provision we have comes from our gracious God, and this is true whether we have little, enough, or plenty, we should not be surprised when our hands are open regarding money and we are drawn to give anyway. This is worship.
Should my Giving be Structured or Should I Give “whatever/whenever”?
Just as an employer pays an employee’s wages at regular intervals, so should it be when giving to a church. It would be nearly impossible to pay bills on time and care for the needs of our families without consistency. It is the same way with a church. Ups and downs in giving create difficulties in planning and executing the mission and ministry.
Paul knew this, so when it came time for the Corinthians to take up a collection for a neighboring church, he gave them these instructions: “On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.” (1 Cor. 16:2, NLT)
We should learn from Paul’s direction to the Corinthians. Paul seemed to understand the nature of every person as it relates to giving. Either we give regularly from a portion of what we earn right away, or we have a propensity to spend it elsewhere. It seems wise to take from his wisdom and give in a disciplined way so the regular needs of the church can be met.
All of these questions aside, let’s not miss another, if not the most important point: giving is a regular act of worship in response to God’s gracious provision for you and your family. God first provides, and we then respond in order to see the mission of Jesus Christ go forward in his church.
If you feel moved to give to Foundation Church in an ongoing regular way, or in a one time ‘over and above’ gift please consider giving through one of the avenues listed below.
If you attend Foundation Church, here are some ways you can respond by giving:
Give during the Sunday worship service (cash or check).
Give using your bank's Bill Pay service.
Give online by clicking on ‘give’ at http://foundationchurch.org/
A member of Foundation Church recently asked - “What is the best way to give so the church isn’t charged online credit card processing fees?”
Here’s a rundown of how each option stacks up on fees:
Cash or check (in person or through bill pay) - No service fees
Online via ACH (a direct link with your bank account) - 1-2% service fees
Online via Credit or Debit Card - 2-4% service fees