Good question. True question.
A small church with around twenty members is in a depressed part of town. Money is tight all round – the pastor is paid for by a generous denomination, weekly giving is around £25, and they have around £1000 in the bank. Most of the members are not tax payers.
Years ago they were left some land as a legacy, and there are now buildings there which have been paying a minimal rent. Around £100 per year.
Got the picture?
Now, the rental agreement on the land has been renegotiated and the income has shot up. To £25,000 a year. Yes, you read that right. And in five years’ time it will double again.
The question from the pastor is, what to do? Because there’s a real risk that giving from the church members will cease to exist once this money comes on line.
So – what would you have said? Take a moment to think, then scroll down to see what the other people this pastor asked suggested.
- You probably got this from the basic description, but the church isn’t going to benefit from the first slice of money at all. The denomination (small and evangelical) wants to end the subsidy and for the pastor to be paid out of the rental income. Fair? I think so.
- The group suggested that there was a major teaching opportunity here. What did the church members think when they heard about the income? Because if their first reaction was, ‘Great, we don’t need to give,’ that says something significant and spiritual. And unhealthy.
- The pastor can and should teach into that issue. Normally we preach on money when it’s short, but this is a good opportunity to preach on it when there’s a different kind of crisis. What does their reaction say about the idols of their heart, and how they see their giving?
- Why do we want Christians to give, anyway? Not because we have grand plans, ambitious visions or staffing needs, surely. That’s way too trivial. We want Christians to be generous because that’s one way they become more like Christ. Money is never about money.
- The amount people give is irrelevant. So is the choice of how much they give to church or how much to other gospel causes. The point is giving and generosity.
- So, that the first tranche of money does not change the church’s financial situation is a good thing. It gives them time to think and pray about their giving in the light of the next step up in a few years. They can think, study, pray and plan together.
What do you think? Pitch in below with your ideas.
I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and 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 all this through him who gives me strength.
Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need. Not that I desire your gifts; what I desire is that more be credited to your account. I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:10-19)