I want you to think about how you ask for money for church events, and what you are teaching the people when you do ask.

Are you teaching giving to God out of gratitude for your salvation?  Are you teaching a model of sharing what you have for the common benefit of all?  Both of those come from a practice of regular tithing – a weekly or biweekly or monthly share of your income.

Or do you fund the church with bake sales and flea markets?  They say you don’t value the service you offer to the parishoners, and are willing to sell your resources cheap to live in constant poverty.  Closely related – but at the other end of the giving spectrum – are those “ministries” that are always selling something at a markup, but calling it a donation.  Legally, they are supposed to deduct the cost of the item provided from the donation amount.  And if there is a “suggested minimum donation” and they don’t send it unless you donate something, it’s not really a donation.

In general, it’s best for the church to have the people give to the general fund, and then work within the budget to apportion the cash.  You will have a few special offerings, but when your whole budget is paid for with targeted giving, the nonminstry infrastructure items can get the short shrift.  Things like maintenance on the boiler, or insurance or the salary of a pastor who speaks truth and not just what the people want to hear.

We do special gifts, both inside the budget and outside.  An annual international missions offering. Another for cooperative US missions.  A building fund line item.  Love offering to a speaker. Those teach a story of giving beyond the tithe, without expecting anything in return except the knowledge that the resources given you by God are being used to do His work

In those cases, it’s sometimes good to point out what the “over and above” gift is buying.  I put a story behind a missions offering once by suggesting that while we were only a small church and not able to give much, we could fund the building rental of a mission congregation for a month.  Four Sundays in a hotel room costing $300 a day.  That $1200 was a stretch for us, but we knew the kinds of things it was paying for.

When I was growing up, the denominational orphanage in the state had banks in the shape of a one-room church.  It was up front on the communion table.  Whenever anyone had a birthday, at a specific time in the service (usually around the time of announcements),  that person would walk to the front and put some money in the bank. It was supposed to represent your age.  A young child might drop in 5 pennies.  A teenager might give 12 dimes.  An older adult might give $73 – one a year.  It wasn’t the total budget but it helped us make a connection with those less fortunate than us, who didn’t have a mom or dad.

And it built a habit of being generous.

A couple of years ago I resurrected that habit in my own life.  I have become acquainted with a particularly innovative orphan society (OrphanHelpers), and have taken up the habit of giving a dollar a year as a special offering.  Since I just had a birthday, there is now a check on the way for $53.  It’s not a cause they’ve adopted widespread, but it’s meaningful to me.

Note the birthday gift to OH as a remembrance of OK Baptist Children’s home                                                                                                                                                                                               http://www.obhc.org/NetCommunity/Page.aspx?pid=322

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