Give

Giving is one of the most sensitive areas of church life. Pastors typically hate to preach on the topic and congregations typically cringe when they hear the sermon is going to be on giving. The subject of giving is usually avoided in churches unless there is an imminent financial crisis looming. Yet this is probably the very worst time to talk about giving because it implies we should only give when a need is presented to us.

Giving is worshipful acknowledgment of our submission to and dependence on God. It is something we should do because it brings us great joy. It should be so exciting to us that we seek out opportunities to give. At North Point we want giving to be seen this way. Guilt and obligation should never be part of anyone’s giving equation, just delight at the opportunity. We like to talk about giving the same way we talk about using other gifts. Just as we love to see those who God has blessed with musical talent find great joy in blessing those around them with their gift, we love to see those who God has blessed with financial resource find great joy in giving generously. Once again, giving is worship. When you start from this premise, then the tough questions on giving just lose their bite.

1. Should everyone give 10%?

2. Why aren’t a lot more people giving a lot more money?

3. Should all my giving be to the local church?

4. Are the elders or the givers responsible for how the money is spent?

1. Should everyone give 10%?

No. The Old Testament required God’s people to give 10% of their first fruits – the first born of their herds or the first crops of the season. The scriptural principle is clear – God needs to be first priority when it comes to our money. How this works out in the New Testament is a little different though. Rather than giving 10%, we should give as much as we can, and we should be continually trying to reprioritize our lives to give more. Worship, expressed through giving, is about the direction one is moving, not the percentage one is giving.

For some people giving much less than 10% – sometimes nothing at all – is completely appropriate. Christians need to be responsible with their money. For Christians who find their lives in financial chaos, it is more important to develop the discipline of paying off debt and learning to live within their means than it is to tithe in a way that would further exacerbate the financial chaos in their lives. Once the discipline of frugal living is developed, the move to a life of giving is simply a further extension of this initial worshipful practice.

For others, giving much more than 10% – much, much more – is completely appropriate. Those who have been blessed with abundant resource, or those who are already living disciplined, financially responsible, frugal, contented lives, usually find there is great joy in being able to give as they are able.

2. Why aren’t a lot more people giving a lot more money?

Joyful doesn’t mean easy! Bringing the Lordship of Christ into every area of our lives is a challenge as well as a privilege. Developing the worshipful discipline of living frugally and giving abundantly is counter cultural to most of us. We move towards increased spiritual maturity slowly as we experience God’s grace more fully in our lives. Any spiritual discipline that is practiced outside of worship becomes a form of works righteousness. The discipline of giving needs to accompany the movement toward maturity, not race ahead of it where feelings of resentment, guilt or obligation can creep in.

The two greatest struggles people have with giving more are living a frugal enough life to do so, and a fear for financial security that drives them to excessive personal wealth accumulation. Both of these speak to deeply rooted heart issues that do not change quickly. Heart change occurs at different rates in different areas for different people. Positive changes in giving is a measure of maturity, and indicate the health of the discipleship process in the church.

3. Should all my giving be to the local church?

No.

As Christians, it important that we engage in transformational ways in our community and address the broader aspects of God Kingdom that he places on our hearts. Because one of the most effective ways we engage with anything is with our resources, it is important to view giving as much broader than just the local church.

That said, the role of the local church should be a significant one in preparing and equipping each of us to address Kingdom concerns in our own lives, providing triage for those struggling spiritually, psychologically and financially, and helping us connect and partner with local, regional and global Kingdom activities and workers. For this reason, the local church should attract a considerable portion of our giving budget.

4. Are the elders or the givers responsible for how the money is spent?

Yes! and Yes!

Yes! The elders have both an ecclesiastic (church) and fiduciary (state) responsibility to be good stewards of the money given to the church. Elders must ensure money is both spent wisely and accounted for accurately. How and where money is to be spent should be presented in an annual budget to the congregation for approval.

Yes! Those who give cannot wash their hands of the stewardship role. If God has blessed someone with financial resource he is also calling them to be discerning with how and where they give. Although it is not necessary or appropriate to question every decision the elders make, everyone in the congregation needs to ensure money is spent in a purposeful and transparent manner.

This is a delicate balance which requires both a willingness to submit to the elders and a boldness to appropriately challenge the elders. Avoidance or withdrawal prior to discussing any concerns with the elders are not biblical options.