Posts Tagged offerings

Pastor for Hire

Luke 10: 7

The worker is deserving of his wage.

There is an emerging trend in pastoring/mentoring in the church today of which you should be aware.

The very fabric of pastoring has changed substantially. Once upon a time, most mentoring, counseling and pastoring came through one’s local church. The church hired ministers and paid their salaries. The congregation tithed (10% of their gross income) to the church, the church using those funds, in addition to offerings, to meet the needs of the budget, including salaries. Things are very different today. There are hosts of ministers who are not affiliated with a specific local congregation. Think of all of the preachers you know from television and books.

These ministers are also called upon in a pastoring capacity. Pastoring may be thought of as caring for the flock. That may mean teaching, as it so often does, but it may also include counseling, guidance, and responding to questions. Most of these are roles which were traditionally the purview of the local pastor.

The modern church, however, is less restricted to a church building. Many Christians are what I term “the great unchurched.” These are people who receive most of their teaching and guidance online, through television or other outlets rather than the traditional attendance of Sunday Services. These are not pagans. They are the faithful. It is simply that the modern church is the product of a more mobile society and wide-spread media opportunities. We can bounce a message off of a satellite and send it around the world now. And, so we do.

There are two factors which have serious impacts on these ministers as well as on the local church. First, we have not translated our tithing and offerings to the church to those ministers from whom we draw sustenance from television, the internet or other media outlets. Second, even in our home congregations, Christians are not substantially tithers. Per capita, we give less than Christians did during the Great Depression. Some sites report that only 5% of American Christians tithe. The charitable say that the number may be as high as 20%. Regardless, there is a trend towards not giving to the church. There may be any number of factors which contribute to this trend including that people carry little cash and rarely write checks. In any event, the church is not receiving as much support as it did. It seems to me, also, that we are becoming accustomed to receiving something for nothing. Certainly, this is not to say that no one ever gives to independent ministries. That absolutely is not a true depiction. Many ministries, my own included, are dependent on contributions and are blessed by people sending unsolicited donations. None the less, there are large groups of people who take a lot, but give little. The solution?

Ministers must begin to charge for their services. Where ministers could once rely on people to honor them with donations, that may be changing. Pastors have lived on faith; giving freely. Jesus lived by faith and that has been the model others have followed. That is the space every minister and every ministry wants to live in. However, I see it changing. As the demand on independent ministries increases, those organizations are increasingly having to charge a fee for what they do. I will not be surprised when the local congregation begins to charge for some of their services too. This is not the model most of us wish for but I believe it may be the new reality.

We have lost our way in our relationship to giving to the church and to ministries and this may be a simple realignment. Our thrust was once what our donation could do for others. Christians wanted other people to benefit from the good news they heard. So, our gifts were part of our evangelism and for the support of those who carry the good news. The focus of the current church may be more inwardly focused, both corporately and personally. Corporately we must ask if our desire is only for a bigger building of if there is something the collective donations can do for our congregation and beyond. What can we do in the community to bless God’s kids?

Individually, do we give only so that we can receive. Is there a private incentive to our giving? I completely agree with expecting a harvest from your seed. I want you to expect God to be true to His word and give you a return on your donation. However, as I mentioned last week, there seems to be an element of “What can God do for me” mentality in our present working theology. This may also impact our individual giving. If I believe I will get something out of it personally, will that belief influence my giving? Sure. I might, though, balance giving away my money with buying something I want and the donation suffer in the balance. Truly in this age of consumerism, that is an impactful dynamic.

What should we do about this? Whatever you choose to do. Nothing if that is your determination. In the main, the answer is both corporately and individually that we should turn that question into the Father and get His answer. Is this a trend we should even be concerned about and if it is, is there anything we should do about it? Do you believe in your heart of hearts that there is anything you should do about it personally? Should you write a letter? Make a speech? Ask your friends their thoughts? Should you start your own ministry the entire purpose of which is to encourage people to fight back against this emerging trend by giving more of their income to the church? Should you demand more services from the church and independent ministries and encourage ala carte pricing? Maybe you can find a way to make giving easier so that people who have a heart to give are not frustrated by the process.

If you think I came bearing the answers, you are wrong. I am not even convinced it is a problem. I do think, however, that it is wise to notice emerging trends and ask ourselves the important questions so that we augment the development of them rather than await their establishment and then complain about that which is becoming entrenched. Even more importantly, I think all wisdom resides in the Father and that you, yes you, have a direct pipeline to Him. I also think that you are every bit as responsible for what happens in the church as the pastors. YOU are the church. We are only employees of God first, and you second. You are the body. The body moves the fingers not the fingers moving the body. Although the pastors are leaders in many respects we are also instruments of the greater whole. How do you want the modern church to deal with finances? What model makes sense in this day and time? What does Yahweh say to You when you ask Him these questions? I will admit that I do not want to end up in a “Buy a prayer, rent a sermon” paradigm but I also do not want to minimize the important work that I believe these anointed people are doing for us and for the Kingdom of God. Please put in your quarter and receive a prayer.

I would have you know that our prayer line is open. There is a prayer request page on our website. The Word of the Day is free to everyone and you are encouraged to freely distribute it. These things are gratis and will remain so. They are not the subject of today’s devotional nor should this message be construed as a solicitation of funds. If it is a solicitation for anything, and I think it is, it is a solicitation for prayer and meditation; a request that you talk with the Father about church finances and a solicitation of your thoughts, which I whole heartedly desire. Let the body of Christ be heard.

 Making it Easy

Deuteronomy 14: 12

“You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.”

Hey, let’s make this easy on you and answer some questions about tithing and offerings. Well, first of all, yes, there are more gifts to the Lord than just tithes. There are times when you will want to give a gift which is above and beyond your tithe. Today, instead of the theology of tithes and offerings, though, I want to talk about the practical side of life. Let’s begin with some basics though.

Tithe, quite literally, means the tenth part, hence ten percent. The tithe is paid on gross income. You have probably heard it said that God gets the first ten percent. Paying on gross rather than net is what that refers to. So, if you are an employee that means you give God ten percent of your gross pay. You can do that each paycheck if you like and that certainly makes it easy. You can also do it monthly if you prefer. You could even give every week. Just find something that makes sense with your pay schedule and your life. If you own your own business, then you would give ten percent of your total income. Again, do that weekly or monthly.

Okay, now, how about the question, “Who do I send my tithe to?” Well, it should be sent to the one who is feeding you. Who do you rely on when you need help? Who is feeding you day in and day out. Are you a member of a church congregation? That church supports you by having regular weekly services and providing for your needs in other ways. When you give that church your tithe, you pay the electricity bill, the water bill and all of the other necessaries, including salaries, which allow that church to keep providing services.

This once was not to be a difficult question because we all simply gave our tithe to our local church. Today, however, we may be fed by any number of ministries through internet or television ministry. Do these ministries deserve a portion of your tithe too? Well, perhaps so. However, you can also reserve a gift for those ministries if you like. In other words, you could still give your whole tithe to the local church and send the other ministries that feed you a monthly gift. Some ministers teach not to split up your tithe. Personally, I am alright with it. I do feel we have a responsibility to the church we attend every week but I also think there is something fundamentally wrong with us feeding off of a ministry and never providing any substance back to that ministry. Take this question to the Lord in prayer but don’t be so bound by tradition that you cannot hear His leading.

What about setting up an auto payment? You have probably heard some ministers teach not to set up your tithe on auto payment. Their reasoning is very good but at the end of the day I have reasons which for me are more compelling for using an auto-payment function. One of the key reasons some folks don’t want you to use auto-pay is because your tithe and your gifts and offerings should always be purposeful. In other words, we should be engaged with God over our giving. Every time I give something to the work of the Lord I want to be engaged emotionally and intentionally in that transaction. That can be hard while using bill pay. Besides being purposeful, our giving should also always be done prayerfully. Again, this can be difficult if you use an auto payment feature. One thing you can do, though, is set up your bill pay so that it sends you an email when that payment is about to go out. Pray over that gift then. It might not be as perfect as sitting down and writing checks but I think it will work.

The real advantage to the auto-pay feature is that you don’t forget. This is a big deal for me because I travel a lot. I don’t want to get two months down the road and realize I have forgotten to send in my tithe. So whether I am on the road or in town, I know my tithe, gifts and offerings are going to be sent on time.

One other thought. I really do believe in tithes and offerings. I never give only ten percent. That doesn’t make me special. I am just more desperate for God’s blessing in my life than some other folks. Sometimes, though, when we set up our tithe on auto-pay, we disengage mentally from the whole process. That is the thing I would not have you do. I want us to all be conscious every day about what the Father is speaking to us about giving. He might have a gift He wants you to sow today that has nothing to do with your regular giving. So, my bottom line is this: first, whatever Dad tells you to do relative to who you give to, how much you give (above the tithe) or the delivery method, you should do. I strongly believe this should be something you do with the father. Secondly, if any of the technological conveniences cause you to be disengaged in this process, then I suggest abandoning them. I personally hate to miss a month, especially when I know some ministry is counting on my regular monthly contribution but you can make it up next month if you do make a mistake. Don’t mishear me. I am not saying it is okay to miss a month. I am just saying that if you do, send double next month or send a check the moment you realize. It is important for your giving to be done purposefully and prayerfully. I don’t want your bank account tithing. I want you tithing. So, if you set up your bill pay and then forget it, disengaging in an activity that should be done mindfully, then take it out of bill pay and go back to the old fashion ways.

Lastly, if you have more questions, you may use the comment function of this devotion to post your question or click here to go to our Ask Ivey webpage and ask your question there. We would love to hear from you and you will get a personal response from me. Your question might even inspire another Word of the Day because if you are thinking it, so are other folks.