Tis the Season – Will You Support Your Church?
We are entering that time of year when charitable organizations and churches ask their supporters for year-end gifts. It’s a normal routine we are all familiar with. It’s Christmas…the purse strings are open. And our hearts are more open to giving.
I heard a crazy statistic last week as I was rushing to pick up my daughter from
If you’re a regular churchgoer, your church will probably have a year-end effort to generate extra offerings. Your pastor may even have a sermon or two on generosity leading up to Christmas.
Question is: How will you respond? Do you look forward to meeting the call to give a little extra? Or do you have a voice in your head saying “Here we go…the church is looking for more money!”
Step One: Acknowledge the Skepticism
I’m a Gen X’er. As a card-carrying member of this generation, I’m as skeptical as they come. Not only about church-related topics but about almost everything.
When I hear a sermon about money from the pulpit I’ll be the first to admit that my cynical antennae go up. I grew up during the 80’s when the televangelist movement was at its peak. I won’t name names but if you grew up during that era you know who they were. The 5 o’clock news always had a story about some televangelist abusing their position for personal financial gain.
There have been shysters using the Bible for their personal gain ever since the church was established 2,000 years ago. And it continues today, unfortunately.
But we have to be careful. It’s too easy to let one or two bad stories close our hearts and minds to well-intentioned calls for support in the church. The best way to cut through the noise is to go straight to the source: The Bible. So set aside any skepticism you might have and let’s take a look.
What the Old Testament Said
In both the Old Testament and New Testament, God calls upon us to support our church. In the Old Testament days before the church as we know it today existed, God instituted a system of tithes. The tithe, or a “tenth,” was an offering that was given to the Levites and priests. These people were in charge of running the government and also guiding the people in the ways of the Lord.
I’m not going to get into the issue of the tithe in this post because that’s a topic that’s subject to debate in the Christian community. But I want you to understand the purpose of the tithe. God wanted people to tithe so that the religious leaders of the day could focus on what God called them to do.
These people did not have side jobs to support themselves. Their full-time job was to guide and teach the Israelites. And God ordained the tithe to supply them with their day-to-day necessities. You can read more about this in Leviticus 27, Numbers 18, and Deuteronomy 12.
“Also, give these instructions to the Levites: When you present the best part as your offering, it will be considered as though it came from your own threshing floor or winepress. You Levites and your families may eat this food anywhere you wish, for it is your compensation for serving in the Tabernacle.”
Numbers 18:30-31, NLT [emphasis mine]
Supporting the New Testament Church
The tradition of the “body” supporting those who labor in the church continued into the New Testament. In Acts 2:42-47, we see believers supporting those in need with their wealth. Let me be clear, though. These offerings were freewill offerings. They were not commanded. These believers were moved in their hearts to support the early church.
“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.“
1 Timothy 5:17-18
“In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 9:14
Paul’s Message to the Corinthians
1 Corinthians 9:1-14 is instructive as Paul lays out the case for why we should support those that work in the church. The first point he made was that they (Paul and Barnabas) were entitled to receive support for their work in the church.
“Do we not have the right to eat and drink? Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living?”
1 Corinthians 9:4-6
To paraphrase, Paul was saying, “Hey, we work hard in this church. Don’t we also deserve to eat, drink and marry as the rest of you do?” He then follows these questions up with some examples from outside the church.
“Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk?”
1 Corinthians 9:7
Paul’s point here is that it’s natural for someone who labored to get paid from that labor. Soldiers got paid for being soldiers, same as it is today. People who worked in fields received fruits from taking care of those fields and flocks. Think about it. You and I go to work at our jobs and expect what? To get paid for our work!
He then wraps up by saying “…the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” (verse 14). Those who work in the church are like everyone else. Like you and me. Isn’t it logical they be compensated by such work? That is the point that Paul is making here in this passage. And when you think about it, it is logical to make sure our church’s caretakers are taken care of.
Churches need our support
It’s clear that supporting those who work in our church is a Biblical concept. God commanded it in the Old Testament and in the New Testament church of today. Your pastors – and the teams of men and women they lead to carry out the mission of the church – deserve your financial support!
Let’s not forget: Pastors and employees of your church have families just like us. Like you and me, they strive and struggle to make sure food is on the table. They have the same desire to save up and send their kids to college. And they have the same need to squirrel away some retirement savings for the day when they can no longer provide for themselves.
I have close friends who are pastors and missionaries and can tell you the struggle is real. Answering the call from God to plant a church, lead a church, or move a family overseas is hard. They struggle to make it on as little as they can so there are enough resources to support the mission they’re on. And there’s little “rest” as most of us like to have after working hard.
My challenge to you this Christmas giving season
Take a step in your faith this Christmas. If the topic of money in the church bothers you, recognize it and do your best to lay those feelings aside. Don’t let that get in the way of doing what God wants you to do. Support your church. Lovingly and willingly.
In fact, let me challenge you a little more. Don’t make your contribution a one-time thing. Supporting a year-end giving drive is great. But try to make it a weekly habit. Consistent, weekly giving not only helps your church manage its budget but will also do wonders for your walk with Christ. When you give regularly, you feel a real sense of ownership and connection with God’s ministry in ways you haven’t experienced before.
I issue this challenge, not as someone trying to get something from you. There’s nothing for me to gain from you giving to your church or not. Instead, I issue this call as your Brother in Christ. One who is interested in seeing you take a new step of faith. It can take your relationship with God to a whole new level!
“Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.”
P.S. I created a guide called The Stewardship Mindset to help you take the first step in managing money for God’s Glory. It’s a short guide – won’t take more than 15 minutes to read. But it lays the foundation for you to understand more about God and money.
Click the image below to have it delivered to you.
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