The Boundless blog is a collection of unique voices addressing the issues young adults care about right now – everything from dating and faith to current events.
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Roundtable: Growth in Giving
You know it's right to give to kingdom work; in fact, you probably feel pretty good when you do. But there are a lot of fears around consistent giving, not to mention a few questions and debates. Hear our guests put their giving gripes, growing pains and joys on the table as we deconstruct what it means to cheerfully and consistently give.
Culture: Plastic DonutsHave you ever been handed a plastic donut? Jeff Anderson has, and it prompted him to reevaluate the way he views money, his giving practices, and even his attitude toward God himself. Jeff's book Plastic Donuts is a no-holds-barred treatise on what God requires of us as stewards, and how this translates practically into our willingness (or not) to part with what we have.
Inbox: Where Does It Go?Ever wonder how churches spend money, especially when it comes to the "boring stuff" like utilities, salaries and building projects? How much of a church's budget goes to staying afloat? How are salaries determined? Administration pastor Don Roberts tackles this week's question.
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--Tithing will never be figured out? It isn't commanded in the new testament, period. Tithing in the old testament was part of a set of tithes that would be more like 30% of your income but it was setup as a partial state function. There is nothing special about 10%.
We are commanded to give generously and wisely (to people with whom it would help and not hurt their character), and to pay for teaching services that we use.
--One way I keep tithing at the fore-front of my budget is by listing it first in my budget. Though it's not alphabetically correct, I list "Tithe" first in my expenditures on my Excel spreadsheet as a reminder that that is where my money should go first, and I tithe from the gross (though taxes and health premiums take their parts before my check is deposited in my bank). Sometimes, I'm able to work overtime hours. When that happens I tithe the same percentage from that additional income as the percentage I tithe from my routine gross income to my church. Then, I have a separate percentage designated for ministries/charity I want to support outside of my local church.
As far as Jeff's comment that God, "enjoys" our gifts, I was reminded of Philippians 4:15-19, and I know, I posted it on another blog already, but Paul wrote, " 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. 16 Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
I'm glad Boundless included a guest who said, "...the amount matters." That is true! With the huge de-emphasis on giving in the Western world today I think many people have embraced, "cheap gifts." I do remember the 1980's though where there was an abusive nature taken by some Christian leaders in the mainstream as far as influencing people to give.
As Seth wrote, no, we can't say there's, "nothing special about 10%". But, I think 10% is just a launch-pad, a beginning point for many people.
My church publishes a detailed budget for its members, and we have a yearly meeting where it's explained. The church I attended as a child did the same. I think it's important for the elders of a church to share (not necessarily the breakdown of each person's salary) with its members where the regular money given in offerings is being allocated.
--@ksmall said, "I think 10% is just a launch-pad, a beginning point for many people." I second this comment. I know that some people are anti-tithe or simply believe that tithing isn't mandatory (acccording to the NT), but I choose to give it anyway. At my church, we were always taught that 10% was the minimum, but that you were allowed to be as generous as you want. I have steadily increased my tithe over the years, and I have noticed that every year that passes by I manage get in more money (even when I work significantly less hours that year!). I am truly amazed by God's blessing; but like another commenter posted on another blog post, it just goes to show you that "you can't outbless God."
--My views are the same as Seth. Of course we are to be generous (in all areas of life), so no disagreement on the principle, I just replace the term "tithe" with giving. I believe the Old Testament/Covenant was completely fulfilled by Christ, not just "ceremonial" parts of it. But that's a larger topic - which would be great for an upcoming discussion Boundless :)
-to be honest David's initial response in the round table kind of seemed a little “off”, like he was trying to distance himself from the idea of giving money to the church.
I’d actually say my biggest “hang up” about giving is that in some ways there seems to be a suspicion about giving in the younger generation or at least the people I've been around. Giving money and tithing is seen as something “easy” and something marginally dedicated Christians do to relieve their consciences. “Oh I gave my tithe and my donation this month, I’m all set”. Tithing and giving to the church seems to be perceived as legalistic to some extent, and giving money is never “enough”; You’re not really truly contributing in a meaningful way unless you’re volunteering yourself and are out in the field doing the work. So I would guess that there are a lot of young people who feel like “I volunteer and I’m involved with church events and things so I don’t need to give money, I’m doing something Better!” And not to say that people shouldn't get involved or anything, but I think there is a problem in presenting financial giving in this suspicious light. Just because volunteering and mission work and such is important doesn't mean we should downplay the significance of financial contributions either.
Yeah, I'm pretty good at giving away "social" type things, like the one girl in the round table mentioned. Giving books and things to people, or treating them to a meal. And that kind of giving does usually feel really easy and natural, because I want to do something for the person, which brings me into my next comment. I usually hear the implication in church a lot that “if your giving doesn't hurt then it doesn't count” kind of thing. And I have sometimes given in social situations, and I didn't feel “hurt” because I wanted to give, but then later I suddenly find myself wondering “was that really honest giving?” If you *want* to give, if you’re getting something out of the act of giving, does it count? Isn't that just selfish?
Giving remorse. Lol. Had something like that once.
I liked C.S. Lewis’ metaphor of giving to God is like a child getting money from their Parent to buy the parent a birthday present.
Sounds like the author guy is basically saying that “if your giving doesn’t hurt it doesn’t count” thing.
lol, Usually I think I would prefer if God chose the gift. I mean, in real life too, its way easier when people tell you what they want for their birthday or Christmas, than when you have to figure it out. And I think maybe that’s why I personally have always been comfortable with the idea of tithing, because it gives me a guideline. I freeze up when I have no concrete guidelines.
We have all these choices, but there is usually a “right choice” and “wrong choice”, so I’d prefer to just know what the right choice is so I can make it, lol. Guidelines, need guidelines! If the choice of gift is totally up to me, then it seems most likely that I’ll default to the most selfish, smallest gift I could give, so how can I rely on myself to determine it? “we have a choice, but we know that choosing not to give doesn’t make sense”. But is that really real freedom? I don’t really think most people would consider it to be “freedom”. Its like that whole thing “you are “free” to pay your taxes or not pay your taxes”. Yeah, but if you don’t pay your taxes, you go to Jail, so most people would say they weren't really “free” to not pay taxes.
I'm not exactly sure what positions you are taking on giving financially (specifically by amount) but find it. Interesting you quote Lewis on the subject of giving. Here is another one which I've found useful in my own guidelines which often dwarfs a simple 10%.
"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I’m afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, and amusement, is up to the standard common of those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things that we’d like to do but cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them."
Like what you said, many younger people give in non-monetary ways which is a good thing. But like I said in another thread, how is that going to keep the lights on at the church, or give salaries to pastors and staff? How would charities operate effectively? The truth is actual monetary gifts are necessary and we as a younger generation need to do our part and not just leave it to "the older folks. Yes, you may not be able to have pumpkin spiced lattes as often as you'd like or have to settle for the next-best smartphone than upgrading to the latest one. But I believe God will honor such a sacrifice (the word itself implies losing something you care about).
This isn't intended to browbeat people or guilt-trip them in these tough economic times (esp regarding employment). I'm simply pointed out that too often we (including myself) give AFTER we've covered all of bases and such behavior diminishes our reliance on God's provision.
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