Beryl Jantzi is the director of Stewardship Education for Everence. The FAQs for this article are adapted from, “Stewardship for Vital Congregations” by Anthony Robinson, The Pilgrim Press, 2011.
Across congregations and denominations, there are many common questions about how to best manage our resources and how much is appropriate to give away and to keep. Here are common questions for you to ponder on your own, or share as discussion starters with a small group.
Q: How much should I give to the church?
A: Enough that it makes a difference in your life.
If you are just getting started, think of committing a certain percentage that allows you to monitor your giving and establish a starting point from which you can grow. For some just getting started, that may be two percent; for others, five percent.
Scripture in both Old and New Testaments talk about a tithe or a tenth as one model. Even Jesus endorses tithing as model and as something that should not be neglected (Matthew 23:23). Paul talks about proportional and intentional giving.
Because Paul writes primarily to Gentile audiences, using tithe language would not have made any sense since that was a Jewish practice (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Should we stop once we achieve the tithe? Probably not – especially if we are able to give more and make a greater difference. Paul also talks about sacrificial giving and how one community in the region of Macedonia modeled a “wealth of generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-6).
Q: Do endowments kill churches?
A: No. Endowments don’t kill churches; people do.
Endowments can create a false sense of security that results in congregations and their leaders not having a compelling or challenging vision of the church’s purpose and potential. That can kill a church. An endowment used for special ministries and mission commitments (Christian education, short-term missions, seminary assistance for those called to ministry, local refugee resettlement) can keep passions alive for vital ministries – both within and outside the local congregation.
Q: Should the pastor know how much members give?
A: If our use of money and our giving practices are a barometer of our spiritual conditions, and if the pastor is charged with the care of the spiritual health of the congregation and the people, the answer is yes.
Significant giving increases and decreases usually reflect issues going on in the personal lives of members or households.
Similarly, a person’s pulling back from serving on committees or attendance at Sunday morning worship also should get the attention of the pastor. Any of these changes should indicate a pastoral contact would be in order. It’s not about the money; it’s about the well-being and the relationship of the individual to the congregation or issues taking place in his or her life.