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I just read this week's CRC Communications email and the link to Dave Schelhass' article in The Des Moines Register. I would like to point out to Dave and others that by combining several separate phrases from the CRCNA "official position" he reads into the statement some boldness to statements...

December 30, 2015 0 0 comments
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If you're like me, your church holds a special place in your life.  Perhaps you or your children were maried there, children or grandchildren baptized there.  When you think about it, many activities have positively impacted the life of your family at church.  Having said that, do you know there...

August 9, 2011 0 0 comments
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Thinking about how to engage or empower your members for ministry -- utilizing their gifts?  Check out Sheri's blog post, "Members Using Their Gifts" on the Church Administration forum.

July 5, 2011 0 0 comments
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Can you share an idea your church has used that involved the kids and helped them understand their acts of stewardship?

April 26, 2011 0 1 comments
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I have been asked to assist a church with information and ideas re: to have a special drive for debt reduction.  I am assuming other churches have done so and thus would like some samples of what they have used to inspire their members to give.  Looking forward to hearing from you. 

March 14, 2011 0 1 comments
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Does your church offer electronic giving?  If so, what do you like about it?  If not, do you think they should, and why?

December 8, 2010 0 8 comments
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What are the challenges to giving when the total church budget is divided by the number of families in the congregation?

November 23, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic

How do you spread a vision of biblical stewardship in an uncertain economy?  This is the question we get from churches quite frequently.

In response, I’m happy to tell you about a new stewardship webinar series.  The first in a 3-part series, “5 Keys to a More Generous Church,” will be...

October 15, 2010 0 1 comments
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"Encouraging stewardship is the task of all leaders in the church", according to Robert C. Heerspink in his book, Firstfruits:  A Stewardship Guide for Church Leaders. The enthusiastic, well-informed efforts of the leadership team (pastor, elders, deacons) will help members catch the stewardship...

September 21, 2010 0 0 comments
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Bill Gates and Warren Buffett could be considered good examples of charitable givers and are receiving lots of press as they talk to others about their responsibility to do the same.  How have you been inspired by the generosity of others?

August 13, 2010 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic
In the best-selling book The Millionaire Next Door, the authors studied the impact of gifts of cash to children in their 30s and 40s. The essence of their research was that for most children, gifts of cash are typically spent...and those who received cash gifts actually had less in savings by...
July 15, 2010 0 1 comments
Discussion Topic
Crown Financial Ministries says that "when we take a portion of our tithe and divert it to keep our children in Christian schools, it's really a gift in self-interest. Educational costs are your normal responsibility. Therefore, if God wants your children to attend private school, He will provide...
June 1, 2010 0 12 comments
Discussion Topic
OK, sounds like a silly question because credit cards are so common, but consider this: "Citibank calculates that a consumer using a credit card will buy 26% more [than those using cash] - even if the consumer pays it all off [each month] without interest charges." - Randy Alcorn; Money,...
March 5, 2010 0 7 comments
Q&A

What resources or projects are you using in your church to teach kids about stewardship?

February 26, 2010 0 1 comments
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We use Dave Ramsey for adults. 

Dave also wrote a book, Smart Kids, co-authored with his daughter. It's helpful

I don't understand why people become obsessed with tithing. I give 10 per cent and then some but I despise tithing. Why? I know some people who have left the church out of guilt from not being able to afford it. Then I look at the weak theological reasoning as to why tithing is expected and see the spiritual abuse that goes on by the misuse of Scriptures such as Malachi 3. The fact that some of you are querying whether school fees count show what a legalistic ritual tithing has become. A study of the NT and Early Church right up to the start of the 20th Century shows tithing as not part of the sacraments with Paul making it clear that each should purpose in their heart what to give and God loves a cheerful giver. When people are pressured or oppressed onto giving money they can't afford the Church has shamefully committed spiritual a use. I  ashamed of times where I have told my church that if you aren't giving 10% you ate lacking faith or being selfish. I repent of my sin and pray people will be freed on Jesus' name. Amen!

I would like to encourage parents to send their children to a Christian School even if donations to church would be less on account of these high expenses. For those who have lots of the world's goods, I have problems with limiting their contribution to 10%.

There are other large-scheme considerations in this decision.

How does the credit card industry treat the disadvantaged in society? Do they charge reasonable interest if you get stuck behind? What effect does their 3% transaction cost have across the board, indeed worldwide, on commodities? Am I comfortable endorsing these effects because of the convenience or rewards that credit cards offer?

Dropping credit cards may be something like economic vegitarianism. There's nothing wrong with eating meat, except that it supports a the meat industry (just an example). I haven't quite made the jump myself.

I was wondering about debit cards too. I almost never carry cash unless I'm going to the farmer's market. Bills are all autopay. I don't use credit cards except for work. Seems to me that the statistic might not be a cause/effect relationship. Maybe people who use cash tend to spend less in general and wouldn't change if they switched to credit . . . or maybe people who spend more are more likely to use credit and that wouldn't change if they switched to cash.

Maybe a better question for discussion is, "What should Christians buy?"

You may want to adapt some ideas from here:

http://www.kids2kidsmissions.org/

In my experience working with churches on capital campaigns it seems no one likes to have debt at not-for-profit ministries. This is especially true in churches. The best response is to put debt into context. If it is possible to combine some capital or program expansion with debt reduction it often makes giving to debt mor palitable. The focus should not be on the debt itself but what will be possible to do as a result of reducing the debt. Will you be able to increase programming? You must cast a vision for the future. That is what people respond to. Also you need to focus more on biblical stewardship than on debt.    

Our Church stated using this about 1 1/2 years ago and had 6 people sign up right away.  I was pleased that a couple of the people commented that it helped them be more regular in giving and made it a higher priority for them.   We probably should offer the option again, as electronic fund transfer is becoming much more readily accepted and used.  For us offerring this was a great step in the right direction to encourage stewardship!

Our church budget is approved as a commitment from the congregation to give as they are blessed.  We encourage our church body to give 5-6%  of their gross income to the general fund and give to special funds above that giving.  The leadership has calculated how much this would be per adult member but this is not a requirement from anyone nor published anywhere other than in the budget documents.  We think of giving as a body of believers supporting the church ministry, not members who are obligated to pay as in a membership to a country club. God graciously blessed our church giving again this past year and we were able to pay our bills and give our full ministry shares. 

posted in: Church budgets

Just thought I'd let this forum know that last week I set up online giving for our church using PayPal. A member asked about giving using a credit card and wanted to do it before the end of the year. I checked into how difficult it would be with PayPal and it turned out to be pretty easy. I called the tech support number and the person answered my questions quickly. I got the "donate" button set up pretty quickly. I did have to call support again to ask why it didn't let people use a credit card and they had to "verify" my email address, which she did while we were on the phone. Then I needed to fax in a voided check and other info for non-profit status, which gives you a little lower transaction fee. The whole process wasn't too bad.

Now I'm working on making the button prettier. But that's just me being picky. :)

Mavis:  Our church is putting a section of the website to allow for members to initiate a one-time or recurring gift directly from their bank account.  Our deacons are concerned about the challenges some people have with credit card debt, so they do not plan on allowing gifts by credit card at ths time.

Our church allows for Pre-Authorised Remittance (PAR) through setting it up with the Burlington office. I think this is available for every CRC in Canada who uses CIBC as their bank.

Also in Canada, every charity can set up a Canada Helps account where people can donate online through them. The church inputs their details on Canada Helps and they process the transaction (which can be monthly, one time, etc.), sends the money to the church (automatically, or however you set it up), and prepares an income tax receipt for the donor (the church doesn't even have to do this!).  The cost to the church is the same as if they did their own online processing or through PayPal, so is a very good deal.

I actually do contribute to my church using online banking. I just set up my church as a "payee" and then set up a schedule for a monthly contribution. The bank sends my check each month and the church office gives it to the deacons. There are a couple of other households who give this way, too.

Maybe we could just encourage more people to do this?

My church doesn't, but I certainly wish they did! I'm in the twenty-something bracket you described, and hardly ever carry cash. I'd much rather give to my church electronically - if I could contribute monthly at the same time I pay for my phone, gym, mortgage, etc. it'd be a lot simpler. I bet giving would even go up, if people are able to build it into their monthly budget planning. Interesting idea.

I'd be interested to know how exactly you offer electronic giving? Do you just have a place on your website that allows electronic devotions? Other methods?

We have been encouraging our deacons to offer electronic giving options for our congregation.  The reality is that most younger people (and increasingly others as well)  handle finances differently in this increasingly electronic age we live in.  As a church we want to make it easier for people to support the church financially, not harder.

I can't believe we haven't heard the word "covenant" mentioned in this discussion.  A value word from our Reformed heritage.  Churches using the Kuyers or Covenant Plan to support Christian education base their action on covenant keeping.  I would like to hear something from those churches in this discussion.  Where are you?

It was so great to have so many churches join us for our first stewardship webinar last week.  If you missed it, there's good news!  "Five Keys to a More Generous Church" is now available online.  You can listen in on the great conversation and get some practical ideas by going here.  We are looking forward to providing two more webinars in the Stewardship Basics Series early next year.  Do you have a stewardship question or challenge that you'd like to share?

Hi Mike, I think you need to aproach this on a case by case basis. I think we to let the parents judgement be the governing factor. I do agree It can be waste of money unless the recieptant is mature.

I find myself more inspired by character than by actions.  Certainly, Gates and Buffett are generous, but knowing a bit about Gates' biography I feel less inspired by his character than by someone like Mother Teresa. 

This isn't to say that these two are not inspirational characters.  Particularly, Buffett was once the wealthiest man on earth, yet lived in the same small house that he bought in his 20's.  His treasure was truly not his riches.

I am not sure however if it is truly the best thing that motivates these people.  Perhaps they are motivated because they want to be remembered as generous people, or because they pridefully wanted to feel better than others.  It's hard to say for sure, and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but I feel much more certain about the character of Teresa.

 

 

Being inspired to be generous is good.  Some people might think Buffet and Gates give so much because they have so much and have to give for tax purposes.  I'm of the opinion that they have learned the joy of giving.  Want to increase joy in your life, then try being more generous.  Now this may sound as self-centered a reason as giving for tax purposes.  You give to receive something else.  But I've come to see that being rewarded for giving is the way God designed us in the first place.  Randy Alcorn has helped me see this.  And recently my pastor opened my eyes to the deeper meaning of Eccles 11:1, "Cast your bread upon the waters."  For most of my life I puzzled over that passage.  Why would anyone throw good bread in the water?  What a waste.  But my pastor suggested that casting bread upon waters is like sending your products or surplus by boat to other ports rather than keeping them for yourself.  Why do this?  Because you will be blessed and rewarded with what comes back (by boat).  I'll bet anything what came back was some good Dutch pastry (like the almond coffee cake that Van's Pastry makes--yummy!).  Nothing wrong with being rewarded for our generosity, especially when we give God thanks for sending back the reward.  Life is good when we are generous!  Thanks be to God!

Tithing has always been a difficult concept for me to be at peace with - for many reasons, most of which turn up in the discussion here. I really like how this discussion is shaping up, the themes of communal caring, taking seriously the different phases and passages in a family's life, and stressing the joy of giving instead of the % guidelines. I wish that my family had modeled for me a way to think about generosity that was NOT shaped by our constraints and our needs, but rather by Spirit shaped generosity. My parents were mostly worried about how to make ends meet, but the "tithe envelope" in the drawer in the dining room was always attended to first. More problematic was the attitude of scarcity that pervaded our house and my own attitude toward generosity. The envelope was a great example. The feeling and attitude of scarcity not so much. It has taken me a lot of years to get beyond that, and I'm still working on it. Thanks to all of you who shared wisdom here!

I think that too often we get caught up in this 10% God's/90% ours mentality. A quote I heard at a CSA Conference went like this: "God not only owns the cattle on 1000 hills, he also owns the hills!" The reality is that everything we have belongs to God, and he wants us to stewardly use the resources he's blessed us with 100%. Growing our generosity not only builds the Kingdom externally, it builds up the giver spiritually in an exponential way. Families go through times of struggle financially where Christian education can become a challenge for them, especially when their kids are in those formative years. Still, the steward who focuses on investing God's abundance will continue sacrificial giving as a lifetime lifestyle commitment, so let's not play the "numbers game".

Thanks for the encouragement, Henry. You raise a good point about the other times when our families' ability to give is severely reduced. I really think that this is a matter we need to be constantly challenging ourselves on and that the ultimate decision is a faith one--faith in dialogue with God who guides us leading us to a true sacrificial giving that is still ultimately stewardly.

Anyway, I enjoy the discussion too. Blessings, all!

Dan, I like the direction of your comments very much. I have always liked the phrase that " the tithe is a great place to start, but a terrible place to stop". My sense is that many Christians have gotten too caught up in the mathematical calculation and missed the point of giving back to God. Many people can and should give significantly more than a tithe.

I also think that most families go through various financial stages in their life when the cost of raising children (including Christian Education) is significant and the ability to give may be reduced for a time. There are then other times when families can give significantly more than a tithe financially. This could also probably be applied to giving of our time.

I enjoy the discussion!

I'd like to propose a slightly different approach to the matter for a couple of reasons here:

  • First, we need to remember that the tithe was, in biblical times, given to the local "church", and that part of Israel's infrastructure as a theocracy was that the church would provide for the education of the children to some degree. Thus, when children went to school, that schooling was "paid for" by the tithe (at least in part).
  • Second, and I'm sure you all know this so I don't really need to say it again, but the tithe was only one portion of the giving that Israelites were expected to do. They had all kinds of other offerings that they were to give. So the whole terminology of the tithe is, in old testament terms, somewhat misleading.
  • Third, Old Testament tithes and offerings were not just financial, of course, people gave of what they produced--mostly crops because Israel was an agricultural society.
  • Fourth, Jesus really seems to up the ante with giving in the New Testament--beyond Old Testament tithing and beyond all the other offerings too. Remember, of course, how Jesus interacts with the disciples about the old woman giving at the temple and the rich young ruler, and the parable of Lazarus and the rich man.
  • Fifth, add in the good Kuiperyian (sp?) reminder of the biblical truth of Jesus' sovereignty over all things and you're led (IMHO) to the following conclusions...(and I raise them partly to see what people's responses will be)
  1. We should be teach (and practice) that none of the money or resources that we have are ours--all of it belongs to God.
  2. We should teach (and practice) that Jesus doesn't give hard and fast rules about how much people should give, rather he teaches that more is better--more giving is better (as a general rule and as long as the motivations are right).
  3. We should teach that strictly giving financially to the church is not an option either--that the Bible teaches that giving of whatever you produce is the rule--not just the money you get. Giving back to God what is His in terms of talents and time are part of a proper picture of giving.
  4. And we should teach that if people need a guideline to start with then they should wrestle with God over the idea of giving 10% back to him, but that that is only the beginning of their journey of stewardship.

In other words, I don't think we should make the issue too easy for people. We should challenge ourselves to wrestle with God on this one--What does God want me to give at this time, and in this place? Jesus doesn't make these issues easy for anyone, but instead constantly challenged people to be more faithful, and more giving and more loving.

What do you think, folks?

Dan.

Allen,

Your reasoning sounds exactly right to me. We have to make distinctions between the (institutional) church's work and the work of other institutions, whether we are talking about our financial support of or our work in those institutions. The same goes for the school confusing its role with the role of parents and so on. Society may be a messy place where the school or the church or the family or the food pantry or the whatever may fail to do its job well, but having other institutions try to fill that void by adding more tasks to their plates is not a good long-term solution.

So, we agree that a family shouldn't replace their support of the institutional church with their support of the school. However, is it okay to think of tithing as the charitable support of the kingdom (church, school, and other charities), rather than just charitable support of the institutional church? If tithing is the charitable support of the kingdom, then it would be everybody's obligation always to support church, school, and other charities to the best of their ability.

That's a very good question, Mike.

I tend to agree with the Crown folks. However, I have no idea how I will be able to stick to 10% of my take-home pay for tithe and still send my kids to Christian school. I guess I'll find out next year and the following. Maybe I will see how The LORD provides.

What if I use my tithe for someone else's tuition...a family member or friend's?

I agree completely. I have always felt that way and it disturbed me greatly when church members would say they tithing currently goes to Christian school but will change when their kids are out. I'm not sure why people think that Christian school is the extension of the church's ministry, because it is not. As a church we may support the school as important for a healthy world and life view in our child's education, but it is not meant to replace the teaching ministry of the church or the home.

Along with this, I think Christian schools should stop using curriculum meant for the church as part of their teaching curriculum, especially in religion and Bible classes. This was a thorn in my flesh when I was a youth pastor. It is not the schools responsibility to do the church's job.

Cash vs credit card proabably impacts discretionary spending, not necessary spending (i.e. Mortgage, utility bills, car payment, etc). My sense is that if I needed to go to the ATM machine and get cash each time I wanted to purchase clothes, go out for dinner, etc., I would likely spend less.

Re credit cards: If one pays it off, there is no diff for average person from paying with cash.

I realize that a few places give a cash discount, but those are rare.

It seems to me that (at least in our case) that statistic might exaggerate the impact that paying with cash could have on our budget. In the first place, there is a lot of spending that cannot be done with cash: certain bills, online purchases, etc. Furthermore, there are many kinds of spending that wouldn't be reduced because payment is made in cash: medical copays, auto repair bills, etc. It seems to me that gasoline would go in this category too, since I personally drive as little as possible already.

I quickly looked at our budget and estimated that what is left when I exclude all of these things is about 20% of our monthly spending -- of which nearly all of it is made with a credit card (and paid off each month). If it is true that we buy 25% more because we use a credit card, we could theoretically reduce our total monthly spending by about 4%.

Perhaps it's worth abandoning the credit card to save 4%. But I'd also like to know more about how using cash will reduce my spending. In my experience, I choose to purchase something long before I get to the checkout. And I make the decision based not on how I'm paying for it, but on what the price is. Sometimes I haven't even decided how to pay for it when I decide to purchase it. It would be good to understand this further to see what sorts of steps we could take -- other than ditching the convenience of the credit card -- to get a similar effect. But a fascinating thought nonetheless.

One thing I am sometimes concerned about is the fact that my pay-it-off-each-month use of a credit card is subsidized by those who use their cards irresponsibly and pay much in fees and interest. Their fees and interest pay for my convenience. Is that right?

Interesting question! Does anyone know whether the same is true for debit cards?

As for credit cards, I use mine as an alternative to carrying cash but now you've got me thinking. Plus the more I learn about the industry's practices the more horrified I become.

It would be great if there was an ethical alternative to the biggies - one that still gives the convenience but encourages responsible financial behavior. Impossible?

I work for a company owned by Citibank. I agree that people spend more on their credit cards, even if they pay them off in full each month. I struggle with a job that sometimes encourages people to spend more money then they have. There are a lot of people that don't make wise decisions with their money, and it really makes me feel bad.

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