By Melinda Eye Cooper, Crosswalk.com
It can be hard to explain to seekers why churches ask for money. It can also be unsettling to attend a new church and the first sermon you hear is about tithing. You can’t help but think, they’re only after money.
The first time I was informed I should give money to my church, I was taken aback. Money? Why do I need to give my money to the church? I was a teenager, spiritually immature, and spent my small paychecks on fuel for my car and fast food.
But we all need money, and churches are no exception.
I never truly understood how much churches need, until I was on staff at a couple of churches as the Financial Secretary. I discovered many things about how tithes and offerings are used. Truth is, churches have bills. Some very big bills. But that’s not the most important reason we give.
Here are four simple thoughts on giving to help seekers understand why Christians give money to the church:
1. God Is a Giver
We give because God made us in His image and He’s a great big giver. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, to redeem us because of His deep love.
We give back to God because of our deep love for Him and His work.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
2. Giving Is an Act of Worship
We sing praises, study, obey God’s Word, and serve others to worship God in all of His goodness. But it’s also worshipping God to give. Giving is having faith in Him and an act of trust.
We give back to God what is already His.
With our offering/tithe, we’re saying to God, “Thank You for giving me some finances to manage. I trust You with this offering to do what’s best with it through my local church. I know You will provide for my needs so I’m letting go of this money and giving it back to You.”
There’s a book to be written on how many years it took me to discover money wasn’t mine. It can also take young Christians a long time to become consistent givers, let alone, tithers. But everything belongs to God. Including money.
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:16
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Canan Turan
3. Christians Support God’s Work through Giving
God’s work is way bigger than we can imagine. How awesome it is that He invites us to be a part of it! It’s so much more than church services on Sunday morning for members and visitors.
However, church finances do cover many different types of ministry such as Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible School, Church camps for kids, etc.
Then there are bills. The electric bill alone can be many thousands of dollars if the building is large. Then, just like our homes, there’s water, sewer, and phone bills. All cost a lot of money the larger the church is. But they also supply basic items needed for church services and fellowship gatherings like paper products such as toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, cups, and napkins. They often provide coffee, creamer, sugar, tea, etc.
Some churches have a mortgage. Others may have purchased land, planning to build a new church and have a payment due monthly to cover that expense.
Most churches have paid staff. They have weekly (or bi-weekly) payroll coming out of the offering each week. Depending on how many people the church has on staff, the payroll can take up a large portion of the offering.
Even though they are tax-exempt on purchases by being a 501c3 (non-profit tax-exempt charitable organization), they are responsible for payroll taxes, Social Security, and Medicare. They also may pay benefits such as vacation, sick time, and retirement plans.
4. Churches Give, Too!
Most churches give to charitable organizations and support other ministries in some financial way. Your offering/tithe not only supports the church you’re giving to but also may help many others you’re unaware of.
They may support a local ministry such as an unplanned pregnancy center to help women find support for their pregnancy instead of choosing abortion. They may support a ministry that supplies food and/or clothing to those in need. They may have a line in their budget for benevolence. Those funds would be given to folks in need as they arise throughout the year.
It’s amazing what a financial gift can do when placed into the offering plate or given online to a local church.
Scriptures about Giving
One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. – Proverbs 11:24
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. – Matthew 6:19-20
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:21
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” – Luke 21:1-4
Sometimes in life, we might find ourselves unable to give the way we’d like to due to hardships such as job loss, medical problems, etc. Maybe we’re in a financial situation where if we tithe, we can’t pay our bills. This is not good, but it happens from time to time in life. In this situation, we should give what we can. It may be much less than we’d like to give but the attitude of our heart is more important than any amount of money we place in the offering plate.
God loves a cheerful giver and He knows what we’re going through.
We’re all growing closer to God individually and giving is part of the growing process. The Holy Spirit is working to make us into the person God wants us to be. This is a slow growth process and can take time. What a person gives financially to a church is completely between the giver and God.
He is so good to His children. Giving back will eventually become a strong desire of the seeker’s heart.
What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. – Psalm 116:12-14
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Micheile Henderson
Melinda Eye Cooper grew up in the Missouri Ozarks but lives near Nashville, Tennessee. She and her husband have three sons, two daughters-in-law, and three beautiful granddaughters – and a spunky dog named Lincoln!
Melinda writes articles and devotions. She also writes fiction and is currently working on a middle-grade fantasy novel. She grew up in a large family, and many of her devotions and stories are inspired from her childhood.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.