I Don’t Like Talking About Money But I Did Anyway
At our recent Ministry Report and Annual Business Meeting I took the opportunity to talk about factors that affect the giving in church life. I wanted to encourage those who give on a regular basis and challenge those who call our church home but are not participating financially. For many people talking about money gets their back up right away which is why I started with the disclaimer you will see in a moment. After the service I sent out this talk to our email list as you can see from the following greeting. (I have left out items specific to our church.)
For those of you who missed our service on Sunday I wanted to send you my talk on finances. I gave it just before we looked at our giving from last year and the budget for this year. In some ways this is a risk because without being there the following can come across as stale and maybe judgmental which is not the purpose of the talk or the way it was presented. However, I thought it was important to give the people on Sunday and you also the opportunity to see some the behind the scenes factors of church financial life. That way we can all be on the same page in understanding the importance of our giving. So here you go:
Speaking about money is challenging for a preacher so let me say from the beginning that I am not mad. Repeat this after me, “He’s not mad.” If you have been around TCC for any length of time then you know that we do not do “guilt” here because “guilt” is a very lousy motivator. However, conviction is a different thing all together, I don’t like when the Holy Spirit convicts me of something but still it’s good for me. So you may find this morning that you feel like you are getting your toes stepped but that’s not a bad thing and remember the motivation is not to make you feel guilty.
The excesses of Televangelists make it difficult to speak about money. When a preacher is looking for 65 million dollars to buy a jet that puts people off from the topic of giving. However, it is my responsibility to teach about money because I am charged with bringing you the Whole Counsel of God, which includes finances. In fact, 1 in every 11 verses in the Gospels is about money, possessions, etc., and there are around 2500 verses on the topic in all of Scripture. With that in mind let’s consider our situation at TCC.
Factors Affecting Finances
In any year 10% of a congregation may leave, move or pass away. A few good givers or tithers leaving for whatever reason can greatly affect the finances of a local church. Of course, new people coming who are strong givers can bring things even. However, if a church is doing a good job of reaching new people just because the place is filling up does not mean there is a direct correlation to increased finances.
Within any year church family members will face job loss, job changes and those on commission may have a year of plenty or a year of famine. Just as family finances are affected by such changes the financial situation of a church is also affected. In difficult times people often stop giving to the church first before they would consider cutting back in other areas.
In years past when there were fewer distractions on a Sunday, church was a destination now Sunday service is a drive thru. A generation ago you only missed church when you were sick or on vacation and even then you made up your giving when you were in church the next Sunday. Our world is different and now people who attend maybe 2-3 times a month would say they feel deeply connected to their church. The challenge of today is that some people only give when they are in the building.
Let’s say you give $50 a week:
A generation ago
$50 x 52= $2600
Today at 3 times a month
$50 x 36 = $1800
Today at 2 times a month
$50 x 26 = $1300
As you can see the change in attendance patterns has the opportunity to greatly affect the overall church giving.
Tithing is more of a challenge today than it has ever been.
The average giving of a church attender is 2-3%. On $50,000, 3% is $1500, which is a large amount of hard earned cash. However to put things into perspective in 2003 the average Canadian spent $1,473 on fast food. So 3 percent is really like McDonald’s money for the church. A higher salary giving the same percentage would be like Swiss Chalet (Canadian Chicken Chain) money.
So those are some of the factors affecting TCC and every church when it comes to finances.
Here is a 3-fold Approach To Encourage More Giving At TCC
At times churches are guilty of not helping congregation members understand the factors affecting finances and this talk aims to correct that error.
We will be sending out a quarterly giving report in the near future which will give you a year-to-date for 2015 and our total giving for the first quarter compared to our budget.
We will also continue to offer courses like Dave Ramsay’s “Life, Money and Legacy” like we did for 5 weeks at the Community Centre.
On Sundays, we will continue to encourage you with Scripture and stories. We will also give instructions on how to give through e-transfer. Many of our congregation now give online. In fact, one member checks his bank account on payday and sends his transfer before he gets out of bed:) We even have a couple of people who do not attend TCC but give to support what God is doing here. Which is amazing.
We will encourage you to tithe. I grew up with the idea of tithing so for me there has never been a mental jump to take. When I was going to school in Thunder Bay, I worked in a Roller Rink every Saturday night and got paid $20. Even though we went out to eat after 4 hours of skating I still had my $2 for the offering on Sunday morning. It was never a question because it was what I always did.
I understand that the idea of giving 10% can be challenge indeed, in fact you may say, “You will never get me to tithe.” That’s fine but let me ask you, “Are you satisfied with your giving right now?” If not, here is a consideration for you. Say you are giving 2% and you say really that’s McDonald’s money and we can do better than that but how? Next month move from 2% to 3% with a few adjustments you will hardly notice the difference. A few less meals at a drive thru and away you go. The next month move up 1% more and see what happens. You may hit level where it gets very tough at that point stay consistent at the percentage until the financial adjustments work their way through and continue to give a little more.
We are planning a couple of special offerings this year. Like the extra offering coming up on Mother’s Day to raise the $1000 it costs to rent the Community Centre for our Community Seminars. We will also be planning a couple of fundraisers throughout the year.
Let me close with this thought. We have a sponsor child through Plan and many of you do too through Plan, Compassion, World Vision or Save The Children. When we sign on we take our responsibility seriously. We would not think, “I’ll only give when I see their picture on the fridge.” or “I’m gone for half the summer so I’ll just give in July but not in August.” We would think that is certainly not proper but yet for many people that thought pattern does not transfer over to the local church.
Think about this, every Sunday you have the opportunity to participate in worship that brings you into the Presence of God,hopefully you hear decent Bible teaching:) and your kids are educated Biblically. We will pray and visit you when you’re sick, marry you, dedicate your children, provide opportunity for you to be involved in ministry such as feeding 2500 people like we did last year, finally we will bury you all for whatever you choose to give. Not too many places offer a deal like that. Of course, receiving ministry should never have a dollar sign attached but my point is; considering what is given to you investing so more people can receive seems like a reasonable request.
On Sunday. one of the people I interviewed talked about the Dave Ramsay course and said that he was reminded again that all we have belongs to God and that was a turning point in his giving. Often times we don’t see money as a spiritual issue but it truly is.
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him. (Psalm 24:1)
But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us! (1 Chronicles 29:14)
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. (Matthew 6:19-21)
Since all we have belongs to God in the first place I think we all need to take some time and reflect on our giving. Does our giving show the attitude of an owner or a steward? Are we giving McDonald’s money, Swiss Chalet money or truly investing in the Kingdom?
“A steward manages assets for the owner’s benefit. The steward carries no sense of entitlement to the assets he manages. It’s his job to find out what the owner wants done with his assets, then carry out his will.” (Randy Alcorn)
I hope this has been helpful to you. Maybe you can use it as a framework for you own talk on finances.
Photo credit: kenteegardin / Foter / CC BY-SA
Photo credit: Nanagyei / Foter / CC BY
Photo credit: B Tal / Foter / CC BY-NC
Photo credit: Save the Children / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND