Church and charitable giving was down nearly 6% in 2008, and because of this, many non-profits and most churches are struggling with the change in giving patterns. At a recent prayer gathering of pastors I attended, 66% reported difficult or dire financial circumstances. Apparently, times are tough all over.
Many churches have trimmed their budgets, cut programs, and even canceled future building expansions. Others resolutely stick to their original plans as if a change would demonstrate a lack of faith. A few cannot change their budgets in any practical way because of loans and other commitments leaving some churches on the brink of shutting down, building foreclosure or property seizure.
Church response has been varied. The simplest (and perhaps most effective) reaction has been to inform congregants of the need and the possible plans or changes necessary if budgets are not met. Others resort to guilt or poor Biblical interpretation. Watch enough late night television, and you can hear such language as “sowing seed gifts of faith” to God (the idea of sending money into a church or ministry to demonstrate faith). This then becomes manipulative language to raise money while promising that God will return their seed gifts of faith with personal wealth.
Though I find the latter approach to increasing giving repugnant, the bottom line whatever approach a church takes is this: giving reflects the heart. Whatever a person cares about is what that person spends their money on. To make it personal, whatever you spend your money on is what you care about. If a person wants to give to a church or a charity but can’t because there is no room in the budget, the things in the budget are what the person cares about. If a person’s budget includes giving before making purchases, then that person values giving.
There are of course other avenues of giving like the giving of time and the use of talent. These are just as important as the giving of money. They too reflect the heart in the same way that money does but none of them replace the other. The giving of all three (time, talent, and tithe) reflect the heart. Excluding giving in one reflects the heart’s priority.
For example, to give money but not time says, “My time is too important to give away.”
To give talent and talent but not money says, “My money is too important to be given away.”
Either way, whatever people choose to give, in whatever quantity, will always reflect what they care about. If a church, or any organization for that matter, wants to increase giving, then they must increase the value of that organization to people’s lives.
Find more articles like this at www.jgordonduncan.com