Concluding Thoughts on Effective Giving
We recently discussed the tension that exists between giving to parachurch ministries and giving to local churches. We also pointed out that much of this tension comes from the fact that many local churches don’t do anything with their funds except “play church,” that is, perpetuate their own institutional existence. Today I would briefly like to discuss one final problem that stems from churches not using their resources to reach outside their four walls: it stifles giving and thereby spiritual growth.
Churches rarely speak to the subject of giving. A sermon on tithing is almost never even heard of. While we all appreciate not being hit over the head with a demand to give more, the truth is that the Bible does teach that we need to give. And even though the New Testament doesn’t teach a strict 10% tithe, it does teach that our giving should be sacrificial, meaning that we are unable to live as comfortable a lifestyle as we would otherwise (see 2 Cor. 8-9). When pastors neglect the encouragement of their parishioners to give they are not teaching the whole counsel of Scripture and are limiting the opportunity for spiritual growth.
But why do pastors not preach on tithing? My opinion is that it comes across as slimy and greedy. The reason for this is that everyone in the church knows that the vast majority of the money will just be used to keep “playing church,” none of it will be used to show Christ’s love in foreign countries or alleviate needs of those here in our own country. As congregants we look at our church budget and see that the pastors are being paid, the mortgage is covered, and the children are able to buy crayons and assume we don’t need to give because everything is already covered.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to stop playing church. I want the Church to start engaging social ills and bringing justice to those trapped in darkness. Non-profits and parachurch ministries can’t do it on their own, they need the support and backing of the local church and her congregants. And churches can’t afford to support non-profits if we don’t give. So let us first commit ourselves to giving sacrificially to our local church, then we must encourage our churches to use that money on something other than themselves.