How Much Should You Give to Your Church?—18 Questions to Help You Plan Your Giving Next Year

How much money should you give to your church next year?

Good question.

photo of hand carved offering plate

You could tithe if you wanted. There’s an appealing simplicity to tithing. Just do the 10% math on your paycheck and you’re done, ✔. That was the basis of my personal giving formula for many years:

10% of income for Church general fund (mandatory)
+x% for missions (semi-optional)
+x% for building fund (optional)

Not anymore.

I’ve written several posts explaining why Jesus and the Apostles did not lay the Old Testament tithing command upon the Church. Briefly, the explanation goes like this:

  • God established the tithe as part of His covenant with Israel to support the sacrificial requirements of the Law (Levites, Priests, a sanctuary, festivals, animals, the harvest, etc.) which foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice for sins which God Himself would provide.
  • Jesus, God’s sacrifice, offered himself once for sins, thereby fulfilling and ending Israel’s sacrificial system. In doing so, He replaced God’s covenant with Israel with a new covenant that includes both Jews and Gentiles.
  • Since the commands to offer sacrifices were abolished, so was the system of tithes and offerings that supported it.
  • Neither Jesus nor the Apostles reinstated the tithe as a new covenant support system for churches or church leaders.

Instead, Jesus and the Apostles enjoined believers to give generously according to their conscience, out of their riches or poverty, in obedience to the Great Commission (preach the gospel) and the Great Commandment (love your neighbor).

As I said, you could simply tithe next year if your conscience so directs. It’s not forbidden; though it isn’t commanded either, and isn’t necessarily the best approach to Christian stewardship, charity, or support of the worldwide gospel mission.

So, how much should you give to your church next year?

It depends. (Sorry, it does.)

I’ll explain that in a moment. But first, let me suggest that each year you take time in December/January to plan your giving annually with your annual budget. In old covenant Israel, giving was planned seasonally to coincide with harvests. But you probably think of your income as coming in annual, not seasonal, cycles. Raises, bonuses, income tax payments and refunds are annual (or quarterly) events. Therefore, now is the time to pray, think and plan what you will give to your church next year and how you want that money to be used.

“Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.”—Psalm 62:10 ESV

What things should you take into account when you plan your financial support for your church? Here’s a helpful list of questions Dawn and I consider when we plan our annual giving.

GOD’S PROVISION FOR YOU

  1. Do you anticipate a stable or unpredictable income?
  2. Will your income be higher or lower? by how much?
  3. How much of your increase could you give away?
  4. Will your expenses be stable or unpredictable? Can you reduce them?
  5. Do you have debts (whether foolish or unavoidable) that will come due?
  6. Do you anticipate large, irregular expenses (medical bills, new furnace, etc)?
  7. Can you frugal-ize (yes, I just made up a word) your lifestyle in any way (meals out, non-essentials, etc)?
  8. Can you give a higher percentage of your total income? Can you increase the dollar amount? Can you make non-cash donations?

NEEDS YOU’RE CONCERNED ABOUT

  1. What human needs concern you? (poverty? disease research? mercy and justice ministries? orphanages? education? elder care?)
  2. What ministries or charities address those needs? Does your church?
  3. Are they trustworthy? Are real needs being met?
  4. Do the secular charities that meet needs you’re concerned about promote messages and use methods that harmonize with the gospel?
  5. Should your focus on needs be local? global? both?

YOUR CHURCH’S FAITHFULNESS

  1. Does your church’s general budget prioritize the local and/or worldwide proclamation of the gospel?
  2. Does your church have specific outreach or mission ministries you can support?
  3. Does your church’s general budget prioritize caring for the needs of the local and/or worldwide poor, hungry, oppressed, exploited, infirm, etc?
  4. Does your church have specific ministries funded to meet these needs?
  5. If your church is having a building fund, do you believe it will enhance your church’s ministries of gospel proclamation and/or care for those in need?

FOR EXAMPLE

That’s a lot to think about, I know. But you probably get the gist. Every year review your finances and plan how you can increase your giving, prioritizing financial support for the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

For example, here’s what Dawn and I did last year:

  • The bulk of our giving went to our church’s general fund which we feel is faithfully focused on the Great Commission and Great Commandment. We give with each bi-weekly paycheck via our bank’s auto-pay system. We don’t support a building fund at this time.
  • Next, we support an elderly family member. Also bi-weekly.
  • We also make small monthly contributions to these Christian ministries and charities:

We are making plans now to increase our contribution to most of these next year, including our church. We also plan to add another ministry: Joni and Friends, which serves the needs of the disabled community.

We hope this post has motivated you to plan your giving annually and to look for ways to increase your financial commitment to the Christian callings of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

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How to Make the Most of This Year

A few weeks ago, when resolution-making or goal-setting was top of mind for many of us, I too, was thinking about how to make the most of the new year. And so, I asked God this simple question in prayer:

Calendar

“How should I spend my time in 2013?”

Now, I must say that the answer that came to mind barely a heartbeat later was so immediate and so obviously what I should be doing, that I didn’t question it.

Continue reading

Why WWJD Isn’t WJWD

❯ WRONG

Imagine that a deaf person followed Jesus around and watched everything He did, but heard none of what He said, and then wasn’t around to see the last week of Jesus’ life at all (that whole cross and resurrection thing). And then, imagine that this person came up with a slogan to summarize what he thought was the point:

WWJD – let’s all be like Jesus!

So…

If I do what Jesus would do, it’ll make be a better person? It’ll make me more moral? It’ll make me better buds with God? It’ll get me into heaven?

No. No. No. NO!

About the only thing WWJD does is make me feel a bit more smug about myself. (As if I need any help with that!)

❯ RIGHT

The trouble with WWJD is, it just plain misses the point. Jesus and His Apostles pretty clearly focused on WDJD—What DID Jesus Do?—as in, what did Jesus do for me, what did He accomplish, and why does it matter?

And that would be…

He died on the cross.

So?

So, He volunteered to die; he didn’t have to, and He did it because He loves me.

How nice. So?

So, that’s pretty great…

So?

So, He must have had a good reason for doing that. He must’ve wanted to accomplish something important.

Go on…

So, He accomplished something… for me that I couldn’t do for myself. I was supposed to, but I couldn’t. He stepped in and did it for me.

And that would be…

He rescued me from God’s wrath, which is the penalty that my sins deserve, so I could be God’s child.

Bingo! And?

He freed me from the power and guilt of sin…

and from the power of Satan that ruled me…

and from the Law that condemned me.

And?

He made me a new creation by His Spirit who gives me power to obey Jesus, my King and Savior.

And?

He made me part of His Church which He calls to obey His Great Commandment to love God and neighbor, and to obey His Great Commission to make disciples around the world by proclaiming WDJD.

And?

He promises to never abandon me, always to favor me, and guide me in this life, and to welcome me into His eternal kingdom in the next.

And?

That… that pretty much covers it…

Well alright, then.

So, I’ll just scratch WWJD from my vocabulary?

Yeah, it’s WJWD.


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