Churches and Money
With the current culture the discussion of churches and money is often avoided. The careless use of resources by certain high-profile ministries has created a mistrust of the church as a whole. This mistrust must be resolved if the church is to remain effective in our current culture. Unfortunately, churches need money in order to carry out the work of the Lord in this present day. This article will discuss the financial concerns of small congregations and attempt to offer guidance from a Biblical perspective.
These plans will not work for every congregation and are quite contrary to the structure of most established churches. This article is not meant to stir up strife or challenge current church authorities. The author simply believes that improper handling of finances can affect church growth. The advisory board of each church should approach all financial decisions with a spirit of prayer and should never go against the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The principle of stewardship must be addressed first and foremost. Stewardship is often taught to our congregations, but it is a principle that must also be followed by the church leaders. The idea behind stewardship is that we have been loaned what we have in this life and must manage it properly. While leaders often speak of the congregants needing to have good stewardship, those same leaders often forget that the church must also follow the same guidelines. How can church leadership expect for God to bless if the funds are not being used appropriately. If helping the poor and giving to those that are in need is the last objective of the church, leaders can be assured that the congregants will also soon stop giving.
Tithing is a responsibility that Christians should not take lightly. Personal convictions and opinions concerning tithing abound. Though many opinions exist, most Christians recognize the need to tithe and the benefits of giving to the work of God. Their giving should be honored by responsible handling of finances by the church leadership. It is unfair for the leadership to dishonor the kingdom of God by mishandling resources given as a result of the hard work of the congregants.
According to the Old Testament pattern, tithing should be for the upkeep of the church and to pay the salary of the staff. The Old Testament pattern in it's strictest interpretation reveals that the salary of the Priests was only 10% of the tithe that is received. The remaining 90% was used by the Levites for their own needs as well as the upkeep of the Temple.
A growing trend has been noticed where the offerings (above tithes) are used to pay for the building and/or maintenance while all of the tithes go toward the salaries of paid staff (often just the senior Pastor). This is a dangerous trend and should be stopped. Offerings given above the tithe should be reserved for visiting ministers, special projects and for funding church ministries or simply as a rainy day fund.
An important part of stewardship is determining how best to handle what we are entrusted with. Budgeting is an important first step, keeping the budget is the second step. Each department of the local church should be given a reasonable monthly budget and be expected to stay within it. Obviously, as with any endeavour, changes can be made to the budget as needed with approval of those that are responsible for church finances.
As mentioned above, staff salaries should be a portion of the tithing that is received. All staff salaries should be approved by the board, when the paid staff members are not present. This alleviates their influence in the decisions and allows the board members to discuss matters openly. This also alleviates any discomfort that the staff member may feel.
This short article is simply meant to open the minds of church leaders as to some of the issues that are facing the church today. This is meant to simply pique the curiosity of church leadership so that they can research for themselves proper financial stewardship and, more importantly, seek the leading of the Holy Spirit in every matter concerning church finances.