Tithes, Offerings and Stewardship Fears About Giving Money to the Church
Offerings are Made in Collection Plates
What personal resource do you give MOST to your church?
Stewardship Fears: What Scares Us About Giving?
Why does the word "stewardship" frighten church members so much, causing them to fidget in their seats? Usually, when the minister brings up this topic, it's inevitably about money. It immediately conjures up fears about giving more of ourselves, making a financial commitment, making sacrifices, and staying on course.
In some cases, that may include making a financial pledge when the economy is unsteady, job status is no longer secure, and savings for the future are no longer guaranteed. With so much uncertainty, some church members, who are just trying to get spiritual nourishment, are anxious about whether they can live up to biblical expectations.
The following "what ifs" are realistic worries the average church member grapples with when faced with the decision to make a financial commitment to the church.
Financial Planning Helps Us With Our Stewardship
Common Fears About Financial Commitments
- "What if I make a pledge to tithe and can't maintain it?"
- "What if I can't keep up with my pledge and my bills?"
- "What if I don't agree with how the money is used in the church?"
- "What if I put off buying a new car for another year when the one I have is falling apart?"
- "What if I can't go out to dinner as often as I like?"
- "What if my commitment to tithe interrupts plans to finally purchase a new home?"
- "What if I lose my job and have no salary?"
- "What if I can't adjust to my retirement and change of lifestyle after tithing?"
- "What if there's a family medical emergency that cause medical bills to skyrocket?"
Church Members Struggle to Attain and Hold Onto Wealth
In addition to the fears of financial commitment church members have, there may be inner conflict and confusion about what God wants for us versus what we've been taught about working hard, saving, achieving, and attaining wealth.
We have been conditioned to strive for more, to be the best, aspire to a certain level of success, and to have something to show for it. Our success is defined by our savings account, perhaps a nest egg, or a nice home.
Realistically (although it's hard to admit), making a financial commitment to the church stands in direct conflict with our need to reach for, attain, and hold onto that success. For middle class families in particular and those who are struggling, there isn't much left over for recreation and indulgence, much less monthly maintenance.
It's extremely difficult for some to alter this type of thinking to imagine how tithing even fits into the financial equation. The question then becomes, "Do I pay my rent and car note to maintain my good credit or do I increase my financial pledge to the church?"
Stewardship: Balancing Savings and Pledges to the Church
Church Members Still Have to Budget Expenses
Making Financial Adjustments to Decrease Our Fears
The questions we ask ourselves about how to handle financial commitments can drive us crazy. So at some point we have to make the decision to "let go and let God."
We cannot allow our fears, although they are real, to prevent us from taking the necessary steps toward becoming good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure.
Obviously, adjustments have to be made so that we don't neglect our financial obligations and responsibilities. But we can all take a realistic look at the bigger picture to see what we can do to strike a better balance between our living and our giving. That means we may have to take a closer look at our spending habits, discern between wants and needs, and decide where to make adjustments by prioritizing what's most important.
An Offering is Made as a Pledge
Parishioners of Saint George's Church, DC
Letting Go and Letting God
The specific answer to the question about what to do is very personal and individual, as it is discerned between each church member and his or her God.
The broader answer falls somewhere in the ballpark of making God and the church a priority first, followed by being smart, realistic, and rational about making decisions that affect each church member's ability to live within a chosen lifestyle.
Establishing better money management, time management, and use of special gifts and talents will help church members to have better control over their resources.
- Pledging and tithing is a representation of your relationship with and commitment to God and the church as it is used to run the ministries and maintain the building out of which his work is done through you.
A pledge to be good stewards in what we do, what we say, how we walk, and how we give should not scare us away from the church. We can't let our fears, conflicts, and uncertainties hinder us from relying upon our faith by, "letting go and letting God" in every decision we make in our personal lives and as members of a church community.
We Give Not Out of Fear, But in Faith, Out of Blessings Received
Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13 (English Standard Version)
"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ. . . . I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans