Dear Church Family,
Way to step up with your giving last month.
To speak about giving and money always seems to have this sense of taboo associated with it in our culture, particularly when its talked about in church settings. I appreciate Matt Allan's testimony about his experience regarding transparency and comfort discussing money.
Did you know that there are more than 2,350 verses in the bible that address God's way of handling money and possessions? And that Jesus said more about money than almost any other subject?
What we do with our money is very personal. Talking about money is very intimate. That's why I think the topic creates discomfort. But stewardship of our resources is a topic important to God. Giving and managing our resources are as much an issue of discipleship as is any other Godly pursuit.
Long-term Strategic Team Financial Recommendations
Last year the leadership of our church commissioned a team to look at specific areas of the church, one of those being finances. One of the recommendations from the Long-term financial strategic team was to increase teaching about giving and Financial Stewardship. Some of the specifics include:
Instill “First Fruits Mentality” among our congregation
Teach on Financial Stewardship
Include giving testimonies during service
Include giving/stewardship “messages” as part of the E-News
Highlight finances in E-news
Many of the other recommendations from the Strategic Planning team are dependent on giving. Money will drive how well we can care for the building and our staff. Without your faithful giving, we would not have been able to accomplish the ministry we are doing. Without your continued faithful giving we will not be able to do the ministry we believe God has prepared for us.
Catch Up Sunday Observations
I hope Catch Up Sunday and the recent emphasis in giving and stewardship is the beginning of God growing us in this area of discipleship.
I want to share a few quick observations from our "Catch Up" Sunday:
Y’all Crushed It
Check out this trend. This is the total number of donations given to the church. The number of actual givers is less than than donations as one person may have given multiple times in the month:
New Online Giving Service
We have a new online giving service as of this year. The number of monthly donations is trending up, so word is getting out!
Here are the number of givers each month online so far. The number of donations is not the same as the number of givers as some give multiple gifts per month
The church office received an email from our new service notifying us that if we continue to receive this number of monthly gifts, we will need to upgrade our account! What a great problem to have.
ACH vs Credit Card Giving
If you give online, consider the ACH option instead credit/debit cards. All online transactions cost money to process. ACH transfers cost less. Here are the fees:
Credit & debit cards: 2.3% + $0.30 per transaction.
ACH (bank transfer): $0.25 per transfer.
Online Recurring Donations
Only 18 donors in our church family have the recurring option set up for their giving. Recurring gifts can be set up weekly, monthly, twice-monthly, etc. The recurring gift option is a great way to discipline yourself to give consistently. Automating your giving helps with church budgeting, particularly as we have been in tight financial seasons. Knowing how much income we will receive regardless of how many Sundays in the month is good for planning.
If you’re like me, you already have many monthly expenses automated such as mortgage, cell phone, Netflix , car note, various insurances, and maybe even your retirement contribution. Why not automate your giving?
How Much Should You Be Giving?
In Matthew 23:23, Jesus affirms the Pharisees for giving their tithe (10%). The tithe, or 10% of our income, is the traditional teaching of the church. But I believe Jesus calls us to be even more radical in our giving.
You may have heard some break down into the tithe and the offering. Simply, the tithe is the the first 10% and the offering is above and beyond that 10%. Jesus tells of the widow in Mark 12 who gave all that she had. Her faith was greater than those who gave out of their wealth because she gave out of her poverty. To me, that is the radical giving God calls us to. Are you the widow or the rich in the story?
God is concerned with the condition of our heart. Go back and see how Jesus chastised the Pharisees in Matthew 23 after he affirmed their tithe. Shoot for 10%. If you can’t give 10%, work towards it. If you’re giving 2% try for 4%.
If you’re tithing, how much more should you give?
I have always appreciated what C.S. Lewis had to say on the topic of giving:
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.” ~C.S. Lewis
Seek Out Counsel
As church treasurer, I get see the church’s cash flow. Money in and money out. The renovation has created opportunities for the church to generate additional revenue (the Early Learning Center, the Restoration Initiative projects, etc) but the majority of our funding comes from your gifts. When giving is low we still need to pay our staff and our mortgage. When money coming in decreases, the money going out doesn’t.
If you believe giving and stewardship are issues of discipleship, seek out counsel the same way you would for other issues you confront. We have a gifted leadership team overflowing with wisdom who are more than willing to see you grow and be transformed more and more into Christ’s image. Seek them out.
As a final thought, stewardship is not just about giving. Financial stewardship is about getting out of debt and staying out of debt. It’s about wise spending. It’s about investing prudently. It’s asking the question, “What does God want me to do with my money?”
Thank you for partnership in the Gospel. God is doing great things through you and Canal Street. So long as we continue to seek Him and His righteousness, I know God will continue to provide for His people.