Giving money, tithing, contributing to the needs of the church, taking up a collection … call it what you will, it is a sore subject for some in the church as well as many outside of it. Their mixed feelings are not totally unfounded. There are plenty of well-publicized incidents where so-called church leaders bilked their flocks out of hard-earned moneys to fund their own lavish lifestyles. While this type of behavior is clearly not in keeping with scriptures, there are still some persistent myths that beg for a busting.
- Giving is an obligation. Well, while there are ample scriptures to point out that generosity is commanded, giving is actually not so much an obligation as it is a privilege. 2 Corinthians 8 talks about a very poor church that nevertheless chose to give and actually “pleaded” for the “privilege” to do so.
- God wants your money. In reality, the money in your wallet is God’s already. He chose to give it to you by providing you with a job or some other income opportunity. What God really wants is your love.
- The church wants your money. If this were true, poor college students and anyone without a nicely fattened bank account would not be sitting in service on Sundays. It is true, however, that the church needs your money. The chairs you are sitting on during service or during the parenting workshop, and the air conditioning that has been keeping you from passing out during the latest California heat wave, need to be paid for.
So, what does the church actually do with the money you give? For a detailed accounting and opening of the books, tap Dick Gee on the shoulder. He’ll be happy to show you the balance sheets. Or stick around for the end-of-the-fiscal-year midweek service that comes complete with printouts, Power Point slides and plenty of yawns (sorry Dick, balance sheets are simply not very riveting). If you do look at the details, you will find expenditures for facility rents, staff salaries, church plantings, missions support and the little odds and ends like the Bibles that we give away for free to first-time visitors.