This verse is only part of what God has to say about faithful giving. It is a topic that is covered extensively in Scripture. Today I mention it as we begin a new year because I want to remind all of us of a couple of very important subjects.
Our Finance Chair, Kent Warkentin, recently sent out a couple of letters to our members about faithful giving and the impact it has on the church’s ability to do mission and ministry. Last fall we engaged in a stewardship campaign seeking to increase giving in 2013. Many of you turned in generous pledge cards that give me the opportunity to say, “Thank You!” for your generosity. I am looking forward to the coming year as the pledges you have made begin to bear fruit in our church.
I also want to take a minute to remind you that our “Time to Give” capital campaign ends in August 2013. This will be a major milestone for our church as we realize the results of this campaign and see how close we are to being able to make the payment that comes due in mid-September. This note is for the land at our South Campus where the Family Life Center is located. Whatever remains due on this property after we make our payment will need to be re-financed as we go forward with planning for Phase Two of the project.
Now is the time to be sure that you are meeting your pledge to this campaign. It is also the time to prayerfully consider if you are able to increase your offering to this project. This may be an opportunity for people who are newer in our congregation to become involved in this project even though you were not here when the campaign started. This project represents the future of our congregation. The sooner we can pay for and complete the new campus, the sooner we can move out of our current facilities where costly maintenance and repair projects continue to rob us of funds that could otherwise be used in ministry.
Finally, I want to say a bit about our general attitude toward tithes and offerings. God clearly expects us to be generous and faithful with the resources God has given us. Nothing we have comes to us out of our own personal creation. Everything we have and all that we are comes from God and belongs to God; we are simply borrowers and caretakers. God asks us to give back the full tithe – 10% of our income – so that it may be used for the mission and ministry of the church. The tithe is used to provide people, facilities, and supplies that enable us to teach, to do mission, to worship, and to help people come to Christ in a personal relationship. Without this basic giving the church cannot function as it is called to function.
“Offerings” is another term that we read in Scripture that is always placed as something additional to our tithe. Our offerings are gifts that we give to ministry above and beyond our basic tithe. When we are asked to make an offering for a particular project or cause, it is understood that this is not to be subtracted from our basic tithe.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” What this means is that we should not have to be coerced or begged to offer our gifts to God. If you have money that you intend to give to the church and you wait until someone comes to beg you for it, you are holding the church hostage to your ego. This is not “cheerful” giving.
Grace and peace,