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In our congregation the deacons meet in November to set the offering schedule for the following year.  Using the deacon's helper resource, sifting through the pile of offering requests received throughout the year and sensing the heart of God in the congregation, they prayerfully discern what causes to support.

This year, a question was raised to our deacon team about the causes they had chosen to support.  The question was this: when we as members are already contributing through denominational and classical shares to specific ministries, why are we also designating many of our weekly offerings to these same causes? (The question was not intended to be a slight towards our deacons, but rather was brought forward out of a desire to have transparency in knowing how much we were actually giving where, particularly when we have hesitated to bring on another staff person because of the budget).

I am curious as to how other congregations designate their offering causes. I know location and ties to specific ministries may create variance in answers (ie. a congregation in Grand Rapids supporting Calvin College vs. one in California), however, how do we support well both the denominational family we are part of and the local community we find ourselves active (and desiring to be more active) in?


Melissa, this is a really thought-provoking question you raise.  I think in many cases agencies are planning and assuming that congregations will participate in ministry shares AND will schedule offerings for some of the same causes.   Deacons know this, and so they often schedule offerings that give the congregation the opportunity to give "over and above" the ministry share.

As you point out, this can cloud the question of how much a church is actually giving to a given agency or cause.  

I think in other cases, deacons are aware that budget short-falls in the church are being addressed by shorting ministry shares.  Then offerings might be intended to help meet the congregation's classical and denominational "fair share".   

I'm struck by your statement that deacons make the schedule for a year in advance. In my church the offering schedule is made for much shorter intervals, and the deacons view it with a lot of flexibility, depending on a variety of factors.

Along with you, I'm eager to hear of how deacons in other churches think about these questions.

I did want to point out that many of the special offerings on the "official" calendar are for agencies that do not receive ministry shares . . . such as CRWRC :-) We rely solely on offerings.

About special offerings for para church agencies and organizations...does the CRCNA have an 'approved list' for para church organizations on their website?   Our  deacons get so many  requests that they  are looking for another filter such as this to put in their "tool box".    They don't have the time to research each new organization about their mission, their fiscal responsibility, etc.  

Tim Postuma on January 21, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

[quote=Greg Bode]

...does the CRCNA have an 'approved list' for para church organizations on their website?


Yes! As Wendy mentioned, it's at the back of the annual Yearbook but the organizations are also listed online. Here are the links:

Denominational and Related Ministries

Non-Denominational Agencies Recommended for Financial Support

Another helpful resource Melissa mentioned is the 'Deacons' Helper Worksheet' and the recommended offering calendar. Both are available on this page.

Hope this helps!

We recently asked this question, too. One factor for us was that our church as a whole, in ways other than just financial, is trying to be more intentional about reaching out to our community, and we wanted our giving to be a part of that effort, so that meant an increase in offerings/giving to a few local partner organizations.

Our church has a strong culture of fully supporting ministry shares, so we looked at the list of which ministries/agencies are supported by ministry shares and gave higher priority in scheduling offerings to those that aren't, like CRWRC, for example.

As for scheduling, the deacons as a group discuss overall priorities, but one deacon is responsible for arranging those priorities into the schedule on a monthly basis, and tracking the frequency of offerings to any given agency or organization, denominational or otherwise. The schedules are still approved each month by all the deacons, even though one person is doing the coordinating.

Rebecca, thanks for your comment. That sounds like a healthy response and it's helpful in regards to what we as a deacon team have been asked to look at. :)

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