I’ve written this several times in various places including our own Salvationist magazine, but let me clarify. What I mean by this is, stop asking for the tithes and offerings.
It is not that I don’t think tithing is a Biblical principle, no doubt it is. Giving an offering is an action that comes out of the Old Testament with the demonstration of those who were seeking forgiveness or marking an important time or place brought forth offerings. The law required offerings as part of the festivals which became part of the fabric of the life of the nation of Israel.
So it is not that I don’t believe in tithes and offerings. Far from it, but I do believe that what “The Church” is doing right now is ineffective. People don’t hear the call and they are often unprepared. We’re working on technology that will enable our people to use their electronic banking to give at the corps on a Sunday morning – or at any time in the week.
So let me explain myself – again. I think part of the role of the leadership of any congregation is selling the mission. Very often the average attendee is not really aware of the need for further funds or has any idea of what some of the outreach programs or support for the poor or what the obligations are for financial stability. Most of the congregations I have now sat in as an attendee has not done much to explain any of this.
It is important, maybe critical for the general body of any congregation to know and understand these matters. Especially now when attendances are down and the average age of the individual is getting older.
And beyond that, the leaders must be willing to actually act on this.
An example. A number of years ago I noticed at year-end that one of the very active members had given less than $100 for the year. I knew that her income was close to $100K. I asked to meet with her over coffee and told her my observation and asked her to share with me how she was doing, why her giving was low and if she had any things that she wanted me to know.
We had a good conversation and she agreed to think about it. The following year as we were issuing receipts I noted that her giving had been around $8K.
Another example. In our congregation was a leader, who had a fairly high profile, especially with our young people. Again as receipts were being issued I noticed his giving was $15 for the year. Again I engaged in a conversation, like the first one, but the outcome was quite different. His giving did not change and so the next year I had another coffee to explain that his leadership couldn’t continue if he wasn’t willing to support the congregation financially. And so yes, we removed him from leadership.
If our congregations are going to have the fuel to do the mission, beyond keeping the lights on and the heat going, we need our people to understand the need and the mission!
So, let’s not ask for the tithes and offerings, let’s get on with explaining the mission, demonstrating the need for financial stability, etc.
So what do you think?
Should we sell the “fuel the mission”?