Yesterday was our church’s Annual Meeting, a ritual practiced by most congregations. It usually brings groans and pleadings by pastors and staff for members to attend. Often donuts or lunch are offered as bribes. Approving a church budget and contemplating the usually awful state of your local church finances is about as inviting as a proctology examination.
It is, however, a good time to contemplate what we owe our congregation by way of support, and by extension what we owe God. It is also the time to ponder the ministry that your local church engages in. So, at this point, I want to state clearly: I do not want you to give to your church budget.
Instead I would suggest thinking about what it is your church accomplishes inside it’s four walls. Think about the various ministries that may operate there. Think about the small group bible studies; the prayer groups and educational opportunities that are offered. Think about the fellowship events, the church picnics or chili cookoffs or perhaps a church trivia night. Consider the worship service itself; how that uplifts and brings people to a closer relationship with God via praise, worship and music. Perhaps you have a food pantry at your church; think of how that serves God’s children. Maybe there are ancillary groups who use your church facilities; Alcoholics Anonymous perhaps or maybe a child care center. Think of blood drives or health screenings that are available at your local church. In short think about all the ways your church and its congregation stand as a beacon that invites and welcomes all to be served and united with each other and God. Think of all the ways your church stands as a testament to the invitation that God offers ALL in need. That being done I will state again; I do not want you to give to the church budget.
Instead I want you to now contemplate all that your church does outside its four walls. Perhaps your congregation helps with a Habitat for Humanity build. Maybe you send your youth to a workcamp to help an impoverished community. Maybe your church hosts a Trunk or Treat at an inner-city school. Perhaps you raise money via a faith walk in your local neighborhood. Perhaps your congregation sends volunteers to help at local shelters and pantries or maybe your local church delivers Thanksgiving meals in November. Your local church may send people out to deliver the Eucharist to those homebound. It may be that your church choir goes and performs at elder care facilities or at other public venues. Think of all the various ways that your church goes out into the wider world and boldly proclaims who we are and whom we serve. As you contemplate that I will state one final time; I do not want you to give to the church budget.
Instead, as you think about all these things, I wish that you would give from your heart. Give joyously and freely whatever amount you can. Give from that place that God touches you most deeply and toward those ministries that God places foremost in your heart. It was never a God commandment to give until it hurts. It is, however, a Godly thing to give until it feels right in your heart. Give not in order to obtain God’s salvation; you already have that. Instead give because God has given you this amazing gift. When you do this make sure to thank the pastors, staff and your fellow congregants for all that they are and for everything that they do. I promise you, that if you give from your heart in this way there will be enough money in the church budget.
Praise Be to God