Article
142 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Karl Barth's Perspectives on Deacons

According to Karl Barth, "Deacons cannot be expected to meet all the material needs of society, but they should be permitted to look deeper into the roots of the social issues causing those needs." This and other insights by Barth are shared with us by Dr. David Guretzki in this online article.

Deacons
Article
426 views
4 shares
0 rating
2 comments

Faith & Finances: A Ministry Tool for Deacons

Faith & Finances is a biblically integrated financial education curriculum designed specifically for low-income people.

Deacons
Blog
72 views
3 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Giving and Receiving

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith...

Deacons
Blog
544 views
20 shares
0 rating
1 comment

Doing It Differently: Empowering Deacons to Serve

Has your church found it difficult to get people to serve as Deacons and Elders? Here's how one CRC congregation changed and improved their process for selecting and equipping deacons.

Deacons
Video
89 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Giving & Restoring Dignity

Bob Lupton, longtime urban missionary and author of Toxic Charity talks about the importance of preserving and giving dignity in the exchange process.

Deacons
cover image
Book or eBook
57 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Not Just a Soup Kitchen

How mercy ministry in the local church transforms us all.

Deacons
Discussion Topic
283 views
1 share
0 rating
4 comments

What About Justice?

What are, should or could deacons be doing about injustice? What resources are available to help deacons carry out this aspect of their Charge?

DeaconsBiblical Justice
Book or eBook
274 views
2 shares
0 rating
1 comment

The Deacon

This training tool provides those who aspire to the calling of deacon, an overview of the office, role and function in the body of Christ.

Deacons
Discussion Topic
155 views
4 shares
0 rating
4 comments

What Do Deacons Need?

What do you think deacons need most and how might that or those needs best be met?

Deacons
Devotional
1613 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

New Devotions for Deacons

Diaconal Ministries Canada is providing CRC deacons with a 2nd set of devotions for use at monthly deacon meetings as a result of the positive response to their first set in 2011.

Deacons
Video
355 views
11 shares
0 rating
0 comments

ABCD for Churches in 3 Minutes

This 3 minute video does a very nice job of explaining and highlighting the what, why, and how of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) for local congregations.

Deacons
Brochure or Pamphlet
109 views
7 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Ministry In, To, and With a Community

A brochure from Communities First Association that provides a succinct explanation of the differences between church that does ministry in, to/for, and with a community . . . and why it matters.

Deacons
Blog
230 views
1 share
0 rating
2 comments

7 Factors in a Strong Diaconal Assembly . . . Again!

A strong diaconal assembly goes beyond the scope of "one at a time" mercy and benevolence ministry; together we address root causes and we conspire and act together to change the systems perpetuating poverty in our community.

Deacons
Book or eBook
367 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

The Deacon's Handbook

Whether you're a seasoned deacon or someone who's new to church leadership, this handbook will help you perform your duties with efficiency and compassion in a way that shows the love of God to those around you.

Deacons
Blog
602 views
2 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Proposed Changes for Deacons

Proposed Changes for Deacons from The Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder and Deacon

Deacons
Blog
14 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

From the Streets to the Pews: A Story of Holistic Healing

The Central Union Mission in Washington, DC exemplifies the holistic approach of faith-based organizations to alleviating poverty. From the Streets to the Pews: A Story of Holistic Healing by Emily Davisson http://www.capitalcommentary.com/central-union-mission/streets-pews-stor...
Deacons
Blog
573 views
2 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Synod's Review of the Three Church Offices

All three offices share in the great challenge of the church leadership: the equiping of the saints, together, but also each in its own way.

DeaconsCRCNA and Synod
Lesson or Study
216 views
0 shares
0 rating
0 comments

A Biblical Perspective on Diakonia

Even if you read last year's Diakonia Remixed Report to Synod 2013, you might have missed this very important study on "diakonia" in Scripture by Dr. Mariano Avila.

Deacons
Resource
941 views
1 share
0 rating
0 comments

Guidelines for Benevolence

A useful handbook for understanding, developing, and implementing an effective benevolence ministry.

Deacons
Blog
113 views
3 shares
0 rating
0 comments

Building Diaconal Partnerships

Exploring ways and reasons to do diaconal ministry with others in the community.

Deacons
Blog
482 views
18 shares
0 rating
0 comments

The Dangers of Enabling

This post written by Bernita Tuinenga, Co-Executive Director of Volunteers in Service (based in Grand Rapids, MI), explains and addresses the problem of enabling behavior that too often characterizes how we do and understand diaconal ministry.

Deacons

Pages

RSS

Great list!   Great idea!  Thanks.   

Wendy and all,

We've posted this question on the CRCNA Facebook page also.  You can read the responses here:

Yes? or No?

Does you church still regularly take up a “special offering”? If so how often?

Leave a comment or answer here: http://goo.gl/I5fqC

Posted by Christian Reformed Church in North America - CRCNA on Monday, June 24, 2013

rel="nofollow">

 

We have one collection, a cause selected by the deacons. The collection for the budget is received either at a box at the entrance to the sanctuary, automated deposit, or in the budget envelope during the collection for the deacon selected cause. 

At our church we take one physical offering, which includes both the general fund and a rotating special cause, ranging from local organizations to denominational agencies (the deacons determine the schedule). In addition to weekly giving envelopes for members, we have generic envelopes that attendees can use to designate their offering towards the special cause and/or the general fund.

At our church we regularly have two offerings in the morning service, the first for our congregational budget, the second for a cause selected by the deacons.   Occasionally the second offering is for a particular ministry of our own church, but usually it's for a special cause, denominational agency, or the like.

Hi Wendy,  We still have 2 offerings at our Sunday morning service.  One for the budget and one for a designated cause, previously set up by the deacons.  Sometimes when there is a special need (ie. World Renew disaster relief) we'll let the congregation know that they can use the pew envelopes to donate, by writing the name of the offering on the front.

Melissa,

I want to say thank you to the study committee for all the work that you have done.  Besides bringing forward a winsome and well grounded report, the committee was also transparent in their process and sought the input of people across the denomination as they put together their report.  

My druthers, I guess,  would have been to have the report itself discussed on the floor of synod.  In the past on this issue there have been reversals from year to year, with one Synod leaning in one direction and the next in the opposite.  My only concern is that this again might take place in the next few years.  I hope that won't be the case.  I think that caution has had it's day when it comes to this topic, and that it's time to move forward.

"Concern of innovation" would have been the main reason for creating a new study committee.  But I didn't think that the Diakonia Remixed report stood substantially apart from our (1972?) report on the nature of the offices, but was rather a faithful application of it.   Thanks for your work. 

Thanks John! :)  It was a profound and delightfully unexpected moment!

Melissa, your song is great too!  O Lord my God!   In awesome wonder sings my soul!   We sing this one often.  Really nice when you can sing it "out of the church building"  and spontaneously! 

I got goose bumps reading this! :)  God is GOOD! 

Great story David!!  Music coming not as performance for the group, but from within the group, from within the person! 

Thanks, Melissa--really inspiring! 

Here's my experience. Our son, a jazz bassist, got a quartet together and performed a delightful jazz vespers worship service at our church (First CRC, Salt Lake City) a few weeks ago. The quartet had piano/keyboard/Hammon B3 organ, guitar, drums and his bass. His final number, an old, upbeat gospel song, was rolling along nicely with the four instruments when, utterly unannounced, we all began hearing a saxaphone somewhere in the sanctuary! Heads turned (including mine) to see the horn player swinging his way down the center aisle from the back. Then when he was near the front, a trumpet began sounding out from the rear; then (you guessed it) there was a trombonist following him down the aisle; finally a clarinetist came swinging and swaying his way to the front where they continued in a crescendo of dixieland, raise-the-roof praise! Of course this brought the house down: we were all on our feet clapping and dancing along and, as one elderly Dutch woman said, "I thought 'Oh, we're in New Orleans now!'" The flash mob effect had worked its wonder of surprise and joyous beauty in this moment of Kingdom ecstasy. It made an indellible mark on my soul with a heaven-sent memory I'll never forget--and I'm surely not alone in this!  

Thanks Melissa for your encouraging words!

I always enjoy and appreciate Melissa as I watch her and benefit from her work in "my" congregation. I expect great things from her as she continues to gather experience and her leadership is recognized more and more. Melissa, I have been on both "sides." Currently I am more on the receiving end than the leadership end and can tell you that those "things" you fear are missing or sidetracked are there, though never fully.  If in your experience these "things" are endangered in your own life and heart, then perhaps you ought to take a break and just be a prayerful "pew-er" for a while. Although, I guarantee you that it will make you itchy to get back into the fray, for God has made you into an effective leader. I personally know what it does to a God-gifted leader to be prevented from exercising those gifts. Having them suppressed takes a serious toll. 

Several observations on meetings:

1. All meetings adhere to a detailed agenda.

2. Any meeting over an hour in length is wasting the time of participants. At an hour and a half, it turns toxic. We have no gift more precious than our time. To allow others to waste it is an abrogation of our responsibility to our Lord and we, not them, will be held accountable.

3. Any decision to be made must be on the agenda and all the information necessary to make that decision must be in the hands of the participants a week in advance. That way questions are focused, discussions are precise and decisions are made without emotional pleas, power plays or meandering "what if" brainstorming. In an issue is complex, assign it to a committee of 3 members to come back to the larger body with a recommendation that has been thought through and can be voted on. If an item is not clearly stated or is not on the agenda, hold it to the next meeting and be sure that everyone knows the reason.

4. Start every meeting precisely on time. To do otherwise, wastes the time of those who are conscientious and rewards those who are late.

5. And yes, John, in addition to making all the necessary decisions, we, as elders, reflect on a bible passage, spend time in prayer and take 15 minutes for a lesson from the "Handbook for Elders" and still never exceed an hour and a half.

6. Finally, we all go home with the feeling of accomplishment, a job well done for our Lord and his body.

 

Having experienced various church settings and experiences, your comments make me wonder about the relevance of coming to meetings, whether deacons, elders, sunday school planning, building, bible studies, etc., without our bibles in hand, and what that says about where our focus is.   Is that a symbol of our calling? 

If God owns everything, and he does, then we should not focus on the % we give away nor the $ we spend on our lifestyles but on managing all the gifts he gives us so that we glorify and please him.  Another way to look at it:  if you were in God's place, how do you think you would want the gifts you've given--wealth, time, talent, opportunities, etc.--to be used on earth?

The deacons might check with most or all of the social agencies or ministries in the city or county to see how thy serve them.

Larry

 

Thanks, Melissa. By highlighting that last sentence in Matthew 6:21, you drew my attention to the logic of it. The location of our treasure is not an indicator of where our heart is, as if it is one of the stats by which we measure our spirituality. Instead, the text suggests it is more like a cause. What we place our treasure in will take our heart there. I admit my own feeling of well-being has gone up in the last few weeks because our retirement savings have grown with the stock market. I am not closing those accounts, but it feels a little shameful that I am marked by the location of that treasure.

In today’s consumer culture, it's even more vital for the church to be the place to increase stewardship awareness among its members. Understanding the biblical principle of being a “good steward” with all the gifts that God provides is the beginning of a generous heart.  Church leaders are invited to tune into the webinar, “Church Stewardship Development Ideas” to hear practical suggestions and approaches that have been used in other churches.  Webinar is Thurs, March 14 at 12pm (ET).  Register at: http://www.barnabasfoundation.com/churches/webinars-and-events

I wasn't planning to attend the upcoming meeting of CANE; I need to save vacation days for a week at Synod in June.

The following is an explanation of Articles 76 and 77 from Kathy Smith, one of the task force's advisors.

The current Articles 76 and 77 give grounds for the existence of denominational agencies of home missions and diaconal ministries and world missions.  Since the Diakonia Remixed report calls for a missional understanding of and coordinated approach to all denominational ministries, the proposed articles apply to all those denominational ministries together. Rather than describing the ministries separately in Articles 76 and 77, with a supplement that explains that synod regulates their work through the Board of Trustees, the proposed articles describe the ministries as a whole in Article 76 and the statement about regulating them becomes Article 77, instead of being a supplement.  The statement in the proposed Article 77, that "Synod shall regulate the work of denominational ministries by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA" is and has been what the Board of Trustees does, per its Constitution which was approved by Synod. So, nothing is changing in that regard and it is already official.  The only change here is taking a supplement that records a decision of synod and making it into an article in the Church Order.

Hi Terry.  Will you be at classis ANEin March?  I must not be clear as to what exactly the article 77 change is meant to accomplish or why it is part of deacons being delegates to synod.  I understand that over the years the denominational ministries have become governed more and more by the BOT and less by snodical delibrations.  I think this is the "governance realities of the denomination" referred to in ground #4 under Article 77 (pg. 29) in the report.  So to paraphrase, "this is what is happening already so let's make it official."  Would that be accurate?  If that is the case, then I still wonder why we shouldn't expand the role synod plays in giving direction to our denominational ministries with diaconal representatives there, rather continuing the trend of lessening it.

To address your third point, the Current Supplement Article 77-a states "Synod regulates the work of the world missions committee by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." This governance statement was generalized by moving it into article 77 and applied it to the regulating duties of Synod with respect to all denominational ministries. REVISED Article 77 - "Synod shall regulate the work of denominational ministries by way of the Constitution and decisions of the Board of Trustees of the CRCNA." I don't see how you can interpret this as removal of synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies. That certainly was not the intent.

Thank you Steve! I've read that book and am glad to hear how your small groups are using it to reach out in your community. Wishing you blessings in that! 

Currently in our Small Groups we are studying Under the Overpass written by Mike Yankoski. as part of the study, each group is encouraged to come up with various service projects in our community. So far, our group has made sandwiches and delivered them to a large group of homeless people. Another group has visited a senior citizen home. Our group has also talked about volunteering at one of the local group homes for people with disabilities.

Ron, I think giving should be voluntary and cheerful regardless, so I doubt I'd be hitting anyone too hard on it.  I kind of agree with you, especially from a deacon's perspective.  It's really the job of deacons to help others, not to grind on them.  But from a personal perspective, if I was a teacher in that perspective, I would find it hard to say that I've given enough simply because of opportunity costs for my employment.   Obviously, if you have no income, you can't give anything, and if you are paid less, you would likely give less.  But it is not too hard to identify an opportunity cost no matter what job or occupation you might have, whether making financial sacrifices to minister to your family, or to provide time for other mission causes.   If you spend two weeks of vacation on a diaconal project and spend your own money to get there and for lodging, would you subtract that time and money from your tithe, for example.     I don't want to make a big deal of this;  just provide another perspective.   

John, there's a great quote "Anyone can write a cheque".  It's the people on the front line of ministry that impress me.  When a teacher works at a Christian school and, by doing so, accepts a salary that is 1/3 less than a public school counterpart, I'm impressed with their gift.  After all, they could work at a public school and simply tithe. When somebody realizes that it's the ministry, not the paycheque, that makes their work precious (whether that's carring for kids or helping in the church, etc.), then I'm impressed and I, as a deacon, wouldn't be hitting on them too hard if they weren't contributing $$ as expected on a "per member" basis.  

There are some great stewardship books out on the market.  I particularly enjoyed the book "Three Simple Rules" by Theo A. Boers which contains the following suggested rules:

1.  Spend less than you earn. 2.  Save now! Buy later. 3.  Know Debt!

I've shared this book with many people and most of us end up wondering why we didn't read it (or truly know its principles) when we were in our twenties.  The rules seem simple but most of us don't really know how much we actually make (what is our net disposable income?) and thus we may be spending more than we earn. When young people figure out that their $12/hour wage nets out at $1.50 per hour (after charity, rent, food, insurance, tax, interest payment on credit card etc.), they may wish to reconsider purchasing the $150 blue jeans (are they really worth 2 1/2 weeks of work?)

Most of us don't really know what our savings are and many of us are relying on anticipated inheritances as part of our retirement plan.

And, most of us don't appreciate how much that debt is really costing us. In Canada, credit card companies must disclose more of the impact.  My last credit card statement indicated that, if all I did was pay the minimum monthly payment, it would take 43 years and 1 month to pay off the $2,300 balance.  We all need to have more lessons on how to KNOW DEBT!  

When I talk with seniors in our community, I often hear about an envelope budget system.  Every month, take your paycheque and divide it amongst several envelopes.  One for church, one for food, one for clothing, one for household repairs/utilities, one for entertainment, etc. .  If an envelope is empty before the end of the month, you'll have to figure out which other envelope to "borrow" from.  Whether these envelopes are actual paper envelopes with cash in them or are columns in an Excel spreadsheet, the system will definitely help you learn how to spend less than you earn.  One senior couple that I know used this system ended up using a mortgage only on their first house, paid Christian school tuition for all their kids (and helped them with college), retired comfortably and supported Kingdom Work throughout that time.  

Ron, some great comments!  However, your comment on someone involved in ministry work perhaps perceiving a 50% contribution since they could make twice as much somewhere else, ought to be taken with a grain of salt.   I know a fellow who could make twice as much money working in the field in the oil patch, but deliberately took a different job because he wanted to be home every night and weekends with his children, since he feels being an available  faither to his children is what God calls him to do.  His ministry to his family is his ministry for God, so to speak.  Should he then regard this lower paying job as a 50% contribution?  Where does this "ministry" contribution begin and where does it end?   A farmer who farms 500 acres less because of the time he needs for council work or christian school board, or the mechanic or carpenter who doesn't work overtime because he works with young people group and the deacon board.   Etc.  ??  

 

For those that think a church budget is a "money-grabber", they should realize that a church budget is not simply another "Ask for Money"; it's an "Opportunity for Ministry" and thus, a means by which we can answer God's call. I would encourage all churches to adopt a narrative budget format so that those opportunities are easier for congregants to understand and support.

"What we receive in life is God's gift to us.  What we do with it is our gift back."

"A tithe is a very good place to start".   But any couple's current life situation will affect their ability to give back to God.  A young couple with 4 kids vs. an "empty-nest" working couple vs. retired seniors...  In some cases, the person's ministry work is the gift to God and that choice of ministry may mean that they are already giving 50% to ministry work (assuming they could make twice the pay in the secular world).

God's ministries should, however, receive "first fruits", not left-overs.  I've actually heard people complain that the increase in a church or school budget will affect their ability to vacation in Hawaii (and I've quietly reminded them that camping at the lake was their parents' idea of a good vacation... while they paid Christian school tuition and supported the church faithfully)

I've read that Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" has mentioned that, with the financial rewards of his publication success, he and his wife have been able to move to a "reverse tithe".... giving 90% and living quite comfortably on the remaining 10%

I met one person who had what he called a "tithe tax".  He contributed to church budgets as required but, every time he bought something extravagant, he would forward a gift to Kingdom Work equivalent to 10% of that purchase price.  He told me that if I ever saw him in a Ferrari, I'd know that some ministry also received a great gift.

If you do believe in a tithe, a good question is to figure out what percentage that actually is.  For my wife & I (living in Alberta and paying annual income taxes), we receive a 50% tax credit for every dollar we give annually to charity (after we've given at least $200 in the year).  So, at that point, a tithe (for tax-paying Albertans) is 20%.  If our income was $100,000, our tithe would be $20,000 since we'd get a tax credit of nearly $10,000 tax refund.  If we were retired, without taxable income, that tax credit would be useless and our tithe calculation would require adjustment.

 

 

Thanks Karl! So are you one of those volunteers now that you're in retirement? :-)

We have read the report and are getting ourselves ready to discuss this at classis in a couple weeks.  I speak for most people in my church and classis when I say that we endorse sending deacons to participate in the work of synod.  That being said, this task force has included a number changes here that are problematic in my mind and I am surprised others are not discussing this further on the Network.  The report itself states that it "requires a major rethinking of how the CRC does ministry" (pg. 34). 

First, at the heart of church order changes is Article 25.c (pg. 21), the description of deacons' responsibilities.  We (my council and I) regret that the phrases "especially to those who belong to the community of believers" and "assure the unity of word and deed" will be removed.  It seems to me that it would harm the witness of the church greatly if my congregation were doing advocacy work for people we hardly knew while memnbers of our own congregation were nto being helped.  In an age when the church is accused of hypocrisy, it seems to be that deacons play an important role in reminding us to demonstrate our faith with some of our time, talents and treasures.  Furthermore, we think the phrase, "calling the members to be ambassadors of reconciliation in all areas of life" brings more confusion than clarity to the diaconate's work and God's kingdom. 

Second, we would not like to see the imperatives to "bring the gospel" and "lead them [people] into fellowship with Christ and his church" be replaced by the phrase "holistic mission" in Articles 73 and 74 (pgs. 26-27).  While the gospel and fellowship with Chirst should be inherent in this phrase, it has also been used to justify questionable activities in the world-wide church today and therefore not helpful as a clear guiding principle.  We would like to see a sentence stating what "holisic mision" is which includes the elements being removed.

Third, and most baffling to me personally, is the change in Article 77 (pg. 29).  Why would we include deacons in the work of synod and then remove synodical oversight and encouragement of our denominatoinal agencies, many which are diaconal in nature?  Am I missing something?  It seems to me that synod ought to have a say about the denominational ministryes what all our churches support.  We did not see how the guiding principles and changes in Articles 73-76 lend support to this move.

I would appreciate input from others.  Thanks!

1.  volunteers from the church operate a food pantry one morning every week.  (8 volunteers typically)

2.  girls club and boys club are run by volunteers from  church  (20 volunteers or so?)

3.  one evening a week we run a program for neighborhood families that includes meal, worship, kids tutoring, parents discussion group.  This program involves some 30 volunteers from church.

4.  summer programs for kids weekly   (ten to 20 volunteers)

oh He does open the floodgates of heaven when we give our tithe!!!  I was going to respond last week, and I didn't get to it... had the link open for several days as a reminder ;/... 

I hear  people often, "we aren't suppose to test God."  Wrong!!!  in Malachi 3 God gives us very specific permission to test Him in our giving!!  Tithes, offerings and gifts are God's economy... Giving (particularly in a struggling economy) is totally backward to "rational" thinking, totally counter-intuitive...  He is so amazing...  our family has tons of testimonies/God stories about finances, but I would like to recommend a book by YWAM founder, Loren Cunninghma, called "Daring to live on the Edge: The adventure of faith and finances"  =)

One comment I wanted to make last week, is that it seems some/many in the crc do not think tithing is for the modern day.  I was surprised in a discussion on tithing with several pastors, and they didn't think it was a concept continued in the NT. 

I do believe God is still asking for our tithe and sees it as a valuable principle for us to follow, along with our gifts and offerings...  because of Jesus response to the Pharisees telling them not to neglect the tithe, along with ministering love, mercy and justice to those in their sphere of influence...   I see tithing as giving an estimated 10% to where you worship and where you are trained for warfare... then gifts and offerings are above that, to other ministries and those in need... 

 

It is obvious--I have several texts that I use to tithe:[I'll only use 2]:... Mal 3: 10 works;  also Luke 11:42 NLT, where Jesus says "....You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect  the more important things!"   NASB and GW versions says essentially the same thing, PTL

My Dad was a non-practicing Jew an always tithed. He said something to the effect that if God wanted 10% he was going to give 10%. (Mom always  was a Christian). We never missed out on anything. The bills were always paid on time.

Three decades before I heard of the CRC, I heard a Baptist sermon on tithing. I asked the preacher, "Gross or net?" He said, "Gross." In 50 years it has never "cost" us anything. The old people in First Everett CRC say the same thing. Tithing doesn't "cost" anything. With God, "A deal's a deal."

Some of the best resources I have found come from Brian Kluth (www.kluth.org). Brian has devoted himself to teaching stewardship. He has a 40 day devotional for individuals or small groups. When our ministry group used this, one of our members was convicted that they had not done enough to teach their children about stewardship even though the parents are generous givers themselves. Churches have reported significant increase In giving when using Brian's materials.

There is a book out about short term mission trips, but I can see many of the same principles in regular giving.  The book is titled "When Helping Hurts." 

It forces us to think about what we are doing.  Are we just throwing money at things to make them go away?  Is this done for some therapuetic reprieve for our guilty souls?  Money is a very dangerous thing.  Is our giving truely cheerful?

I think we need to be careful not to confuse giving, with stewardship.  Giving 10% or 20% of your income to the wrong causes could be very poor stewardship.   Giving 10% to the church is allowing the church to be stewards of that money.  If the church is a good steward, then the money will be used effectively and efficiently in causes that honor and glorify Christ, and which promote the gifts which God has given us. 

In terms of encouraging others to give a "stewardly" amount to the church, I think this should be done holistically.  First of all, it needs to be seen and felt to be voluntary, the results of cheerful and thankful giving.   For those who want to be cheerful givers, they should consider "giving back to God" as their first priority, not just checking whether there is something left over to give after buying the fancy boat or cottage or vacation or big screen TV.   Giving is always a sign of spiritual health, a sign of thankfulness and contentment with God's blessings, and a sign of willingness to trust God for our daily needs.  A lack of giving is sometimes a sign of idolization of money or financial security, and sometimes a sign of poverty.  

And Jesus was very clear that "giving to God"(church) can never be a substitute for obedience to God, which includes obeying God, loving your neighbor and looking after the needs of those placed in your care.

I commend you for starting this dicussion. Try and engage people from Barnabas (USA)  and Christian Stewardship Services (CDN). These folks are involved, usually, with CRC members on ``end of life``  financial issues.  Also suggest you seperate the USA discussion from the CND discussion because of the legal and tax issues that come up. It can be very confusing  if the person writing is not identified as coming from the USA or CND.

I am from CND.

I agree!  Giving to the budget is never inspiring, and giving out of guilt is not in line with a spirit of generosity!  I've also found that pastors avoid the financial stewardship discussion because their salaries are part of that and it can feel awkward.  I'm hoping that this will be a forum where we can start these conversations going.  Are there any resources in particular that you would recommend?

I don't think churches have done a good job at teaching stewardship because at least in the past pastors were not taught how. Too often church finances are left to deacons who are also untrained in this area. Deacons who ask a Pastor to preach a sermon on giving because the church is short of money are going about things the wrong way. So its trying to encourage giving by pointing out how short of the budget the church is. While budgets are needed, they do not promote an understanding of stewardship. The worst thing to do is to try to make people feel guilty. Done right good stewardship training can make a great difference in a church and kingdom finances. There are lots of resources available.

Elna Siebring from Halifax sent the follow story.  Thanks for sharing Elna!

 

 

 Every year around this time I always seem to have an experience  of a Christmas miracle....... it happens at the Mission where we serve breakfast to our street friends in Halifax.  Every year it catches me by surprise.  This year it happened again.    9 am  Christmas Eve morning and our last guests, Martha and Shelley had just left the mission.  A couple minutes later the two women returned to the dining hall and asked if they could speak with me.  They had met a young mother pushing her 7 month old baby in a  stroller through the streets in the pouring rain and knocking on church doors.  She had run out of diapers for her baby and had no money to buy new ones.   My  friends wanted to know if they could invite her  to come in out of the cold and have some breakfast even though it was past closing time.   I said 'definitely, invite her in and we will find something to serve her".  Martha and Shelley helped carry the stroller down the flight of wooden steps, down the alley and into the dining room.  The mom was so young, so beautiful, so desperate.  Her hands were freezing cold and her hair dripping wet.   Her baby was so adorable and he was toastie warm in the stroller.....kept dry by the plastic rain cover.   Bill, who reminds me of my Oom Henk, was washing the dishes that morning.  Bill is crazy about babies.  He pulled up a chair beside the stroller and spent the time cooing to the baby.  The baby woul look up at Bill with his big blue-grey eyes (the colour of a winter sky) and give him big smiles while us women visited with the mom over  a breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast.    Before the mom left, we were able to give her new mittens, hat and socks. The church that was serving that morning delivered diapers,  the left over breakfast food  and other needed things to her apartment.  The mom was so grateful for the gifts of food and clothing....which for most of us are everyday things.  I am grateful to Shelley and Martha who saw the mother and child in need and invited them into the mission.  For in this act of hospitality, I witnessed a Christmas Miracle... we were visited by Mary and the Christ-child down at the Mission on Christmas Eve Day. 

posted in: Christmastime!

Good topic. Bill Gates is covers both bases, evidence of true  Christianity? He gives away so much money that he had to start a (501c3) corporation to help him give away money.

Or is Gates trying to buy his way into Heaven? Would that make him a typical Christian?

Several times I have tried to help people by giving them money to help them through a situation and it made their situation worse. 

Some people will never forgive a person for helping them.

Only God has the ability to intentionally forget. Would most Christians help their neighbors if their good works were  to be hidden from God?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leon - it seems like that could be a great resource for other churches to use!  Thanks for sharing!

Hi Melissa,

I'm encouraged by your focus on stewardship.  This Sunday we'll be completing a three-week stewarship series developed by Robert Heerspink, called "The Joy of Generosity" (Reformed Worship, March 2001), which has been helpful.  Yes, it's interesting how infrequent we talk about this subject.  And I'm also guilty of avoiding it.  But as one author reminded me recently, giving is data that must be analyzed.  If nothing else, this study has challenged me to give more, which is a good thing!

With Gratitude,

Leon H. Johnston

Wolf Creek Community Church

Check out this new issue of Partners (a diaconal newsletter from Diaconal Ministries of Canada) which spells out a few of the changes recommended to Synod by the Diakonia Remixed Task Force http://www.diaconalministries.com/resources/documents/PartnersDec2012.pdf

Melissa,

This is a great reminder and I just wanted to give it a "bump" to help keep it in people's radar.  I especially wanted to point out your recommendation to bring overtures of support to classis and synod concerning the report.  You folks have done great work on an important issue that has literally been discussed for something like a century.  Bavink, Kuyper, Wm. Heyns all talked about making deacons part of the broader assemblies.  It has come up before Synod before but the pushback was always that it wasn't the traditional way of understanding the office.  Hopefully the tipping point will take place this summer.

Let's not make this the "sleeper" at synod that's not discussed until Friday afternoon.  Let's give it the time and the attention that it deserves.  Semper Reformanda! (steps off of soapbox).

There is something to be debated about whether tithing should be on one's gross income or net income. I suspect that tithing by the people of Israel also went for some administrative purposes, possible even the maintenance of the King and his palaces. But I would love to be informed by someone who knows better. So even then, the tithe was something like a tax. Some portion of current taxes are for doing good, but most go to support the core functions of the state -- defense and administration of justice (in my ideal world, at least.) As for the taxes that come directly out of my pocket, namely the property, sales, and gas taxes, I have a little bit of control over those, buy controlling what and how much I buy, while admitting that I am relatively powerless to set the tax rates on those.

Clearly, in the New Testament, Christ wants us to give generously, and a tithe is a good starting place. But I would calculate my tithe on the money that shows up in my bank accounts (or similar pockets). That is the part I have some control over, the part that I see as given to me by God to administer on his behalf.

Pages