Every year at our church we have a “Planned Giving Sunday” when we ask our members and friends to prayerfully consider their giving to the church. We don’t use coercion or guilt. We don’t say “Give to Get!” We simply remind the church of the importance of gospel ministry. This year I reminded the church of Zacchaeus.
The account of Zacchaeus gives us a lot of insight into our view of money (Luke 19:1-10). He was Jewish and he also loved money. We know he loved money because he was willing to be a tax collector for the hated Romans who were the Jews’ political oppressors. He loved money, stole money, and was willing to be socially ostracized for the sake of money.
Many, many people in our world today love money as well. They will go to great and even illegal lengths to get money and, once they have it, hold on to it or spend it on themselves.
One day Zacchaeus met Jesus, he was converted and his life changed. He gave people back all the money he stole – even 4 times the amount. From a lover of money and tight-fisted, he became a generous, open-handed giver. What made the difference? Jesus did.
So too today. Knowing and following Jesus radically changes our attitude to life and money. If the gospel about Jesus has saved and transformed us, we want others to hear and grow in this gospel also. We are more than happy to support gospel ministry with our time, talents and treasure.
Many years ago, we decided as a church that we would embrace the view to “employ for growth”. We reaffirmed that our primary goal as a church is gospel ministry and we would seek to employ more people to get more ministry done. Of course, we want to better equip and teach our members and friends and better reach our community with Christ. But we also realized that the more full-time, paid, gospel workers we have the greater gospel impact there will be.
At the beginning of the year we appointed a full-time Pastoral-Assistant to enable us to better help our members and friends deal with all the complex issues that we face in a fallen, broken world.
Recently we looked at the church and our demographics and made 2 decisions for 2017:
- Because our children’s ministry is growing and so crucial, we decided to employ a full-time children’s worker.
- We also want to be a training church, so we decided to employ a curate (trainee minister).
These decisions will cost money, but we believe that we are investing in eternity and this all forms part of our strategic, ministry planning for the future.
I reminded our church at:
(1) We are a self-funding church; all our expenses are paid by their generous giving. I thanked those you give so faithfully and generously. (Thank you!)
(2) The church functions on 80% of our income: 10% goes to our denomination REACH SA and another 10% we give to Missions.
(3) We are to see our giving to the church not as an expense but as an investment in gospel ministry and eternity. The more we give, the more ministry gets done.
(4) In Christian giving we don’t give whatever is left-over at the end of the month, we prayerfully decide what we want to give at the beginning of the month.
(5) We don’t police the giving. I don’t know who gives and who doesn’t. (and I don’t want to know!) The giving is between individuals and the Lord.
(6) We think that faithful and generous giving to your local church is a right Christian discipline and a sign of spiritual maturity.
(7) We think that 10% of monthly income is a good guideline for the amount to give; but this is not a legalistic law. Many of our members and friends can afford much more than 10%.
(8) In Christian giving, we don’t give because we must, we give because we want to, because God has given us Jesus.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9