Over the last year, our family received multiple COVID stimulus checks from the US Government. While we were fortunate that our employment had not been affected by the pandemic, we were also conflicted around what to do with money we didn’t truly need. As stewards of what God had given us, and with the wisdom of Proverbs supporting us, we began to look at ways to be wise with what was entrusted to us. A home project, college savings, and more for emergencies were all on the table.
Then everything changed. In the weeks prior to receiving the first payment (in what I’m certain now was movement on God’s part), my wife and I had been discussing our family’s approach to generosity, and suddenly the dots were connected: God had given our home these funds to steward wisely (as he has with all our resources), but it was the needs that were rampant outside our home that primarily needed addressing. The very pandemic that caused money to be sent to our family was the same one that was causing decreases in giving to churches and nonprofits attempting to meet a now increased need for the healing and help that can only come through the gospel.
Some Practical Steps
In my work as our church’s Director of Finance, I help our leadership think through the same issues. The church is entrusted with funds through God’s generous people, and we have lots of important stewardship decisions to make with those gifts. Our leadership decided quite some time ago that our church would do at least as much as we were asking our people to do. In other words, we would “tithe” from the general giving and send that money outside the walls of our church, much like our personal tithes and offerings go outside the walls of our homes.
Depending on your church structure, making changes to where money goes can be complicated. Budget planning can require lots of conversations and mind changing. After all, there are lots of legitimate needs, current and future, to keep a ministry going. Shifting 100% of your resources to reaching the unreached is not sustainable. However, depending on what the decision tree looks like for you, here are several approaches that may help you not only broach the topic of your church’s generosity but also put a plan into action:
- Among a family’s various financial goals, we often encourage families to also decide how generous they want to be. Encourage your church to do the same. Make a decision about a percentage of your budget that you would like to see go outside your walls. Assuming this is more than you’re currently giving, decide on how you will get there (ex: 1% more of our budget each year will be dedicated until we reach 10%, 15%, etc.). This may take time, but you’ll be headed in the right direction.
- Use special non-weekend services (like Christmas Eve) as a time to take up offerings that go directly to a certain ministry or cause.
- Generate a “windfall” policy—an agreement among leadership that a portion of unexpected funds (surplus giving, unexpected large gifts, inheritances, etc.) be dedicated to spreading the gospel among the unreached.
- Similarly, commit some (or all) of any non-giving revenue (facility rental, preschool profits, bank interest, credit card rebates, etc.) to urgent needs among the nations.
- Examine your technology, production, and facility maintenance programs. Identify ways you could stretch the life of various pieces of equipment and then dedicate the savings to missions giving.
Whatever investment you are able to make toward the spread of the gospel among unreached people groups, share what you’re doing with the congregation. It is encouraging for members to hear that their resources are helping both the church as well as places they will never reach on their own.
The Wisest Investment
My family continues to actively wrestle with generosity. We face the same issues that confront our church: How much is too much to set aside? What does open-handed living and giving look like? How could our “little” possibly equal “a lot” in the grand scheme of things?
Scripture has volumes to say about how we can be prudent with our money. To be sure, we can’t ignore the need to eliminate debt or the need to be wise about how we save and spend. But we’re also not allowed to ignore the glorious weight of the Great Commission on our lives. In the light of eternity and the priorities we find in Scripture, we begin to see that, among all the choices we have as individuals and as churches, generosity is perhaps the wisest way to steward what God has given.