Read: John 12:3-8 |
In 1517, Martin Luther – a German theologian and monk – did not agree with the Roman Catholic Church’s policy of selling indulgences. An indulgence was a payment to the Catholic Church that purchased an exemption from punishment (penance) for some types of sins. A member could not get an indulgence to excuse a murder, but could get one to excuse many lesser sins, such as thinking lustful thoughts about someone who was not their spouse. [Background to Against the Sale of Indulgences, Jim Jones; Peters, Edward. A Modern Guide to Indulgences: Rediscovering This Often Misinterpreted Teaching]
Martin Luther’s objections sparked the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.
[Note: So that my Catholic friends are not upset, please also read; Catholic.com – Myths about Indulgences]
An additional example of objecting to how money was received or spent is found when Judas Iscariot objected to Mary pouring oil – valued at one year of wages – on Jesus’s feet just to wash them. He thought the money should have been spent to feed the poor. [John 12:3-4] The hypocrisy is that Judas was in charge of the money collected to support the disciples, and he was stealing from it! Nevertheless, he had the nerve to voice a holy-sounding objection.
These similar objections had a polar opposite spiritual beginning point. However, they both illustrate that asking questions about where the collection is going has been taking place since the foundation of the Church.
It is inevitable that some Church members will question where and how the church collection is being spent. Combining some of the common objections, complaints and observations, we might hear something like this …
I don’t agree with where all this church money is going!
We take up all of these collections and then we spend the money on new buildings, new copy machines, HD TV’s and such. How is that reaching the lost? Shouldn’t everything we raise go to leading people to Christ and maturing existing members to be more like Christ?
We buy new choir robes and build more parking lots and playgrounds. Then we turn around and ask for more money again to support missionaries. Why not give them the money and let go of some of our creature comforts?
It just seems like my donation might be misappropriated or wasted. So I don’t give until I know exactly where it is going.
Let us unravel some of the common questions and complaints noted above. The primary themes of the objections are:
- Oversight/Expense management
- Ministry priorities
Most Churches have bylaws and charters that provide oversight and guidance on how money should be spent. Additionally, most have elders who have to approve major expenditures. When we give to support the church financially, God’s plan is that the church leadership is accountable to Him for the management of those resources. Once the donation is made, it is then between the church leadership and God.
Misappropriation of funds is possible. However, it does not excuse us from the Christian responsibility of giving. If a donor gives to a ministry that has appropriate financial accountability structures in place, he can have great confidence that his donation will be used wisely. But even if a gift were to be misappropriated, it is the goodwill of the giver, not the faithfulness of the recipient that makes the gift worthwhile. (Luke 6:27-36).
God calls each Church to implement His ministry plan for the local body of believers. As God leads the Pastor and staff, they are to lead the church in allocating the financial resources to implement the ministries. Without income, no organization can maintain its facilities, staff, or programs.
We give because the gospel is true, not because we have perfect assurance of proper financial management. Our gifts are sown to God. His servants – our Pastor and staff – are to use it to implement God’s plan for our congregation.
If after prayer and consideration, you find that you still cannot trust the plan and direction of the local Church leadership then ask God to point you to a body of believers that you can support. As is often said, it is unlikely that we can find a “perfect” Church. If we did find one, then when you or I join it, it will no longer be “perfect”. He or she that has an ear, let them hear!
- I don’t believe the Tithe is Biblical for the New Testament Church
- I’m afraid to trust God with my offering
- I don’t know where the money is going
- I don’t agree with where the money is going
- I don’t trust the Preacher
- I think the Church is always begging for money
- I give elsewhere
- I give when I want to give
- I only have a little to give
- I don’t have anything to give
1. Discover –
A. Have you ever questioned where the money was going at Church? How did you express the question? How was it resolved?
B. Does your Church share the budget on an annual basis?
2. Develop –
A. If you have heard grumblings about Church finances from other members, relay the set of concerns to Church leadership so that the Church body stays on one accord.
B. See if your denomination is accredited by the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.
3. Demonstrate –
A. When other members share their concerns with you, listen and then pray with them on how to constructively address their questions with the staff.
B. Check out the church parking lot. If many of the parishioners are driving new Cadillacs and the church staff is driving old Fords, increase your giving with confidence!