What follows is a discussion of how and why I give in various ways, as a part of my Christian worship.
Usually, when I write about giving, I focus on passages, doctrines, and theories of giving and how tithe, giving to the poor, and giving to missions interact in the modern church.
However, I felt that God was leading me to simply show how and why I do giving and to allow others to draw from that information.
I give 10% of my income to my local church.
Two principles guide me here.
First, the discussion of the tithe in the Old Testament is a not a church tax of some sort, but rather a recognition that ten percent of what God allows to fall into my hands is His, given for me to steward.
Second, because I have chosen to fellowship in a church that has a professional leaders (which is 95% of the churches in America), I have the responsibility to support those professional leaders since I partake of their work. If I chose instead to attend a church with lay leaders then I might think differently on the aspect of this whole tithe going to my local church.
When I was first married, I did not follow this until my wife and I discussed it. After that we increased our tithe by using our next raises from our job to get back to where we could give ten percent to our local church.
This past year I also changed from giving twice a month (when pay checks came in) to giving weekly through our church’s online giving program. This has two benefits for me. First, I don’t forget to write my check and secondly giving weekly helps even out the church’s cash flow.
Beyond that we set aside a certain amount for sustaining giving.
Sustaining giving is monthly (or quarterly) giving to specific areas of need.
Missionaries in general much prefer an ongoing gift to a larger one time gift for the same reason that most of us as employees prefer a regular salary to random one time payments from our companies.
While I mention missionaries above, we have also at times used this for sustaining gifts to women’s shelters, supporting a child in Africa, and giving to someone in prison.
The extended value here is hope that comes to those who are receiving it.
Another type of giving that we practice is first fruits giving.
Whenever we get a raise, we do the following:
The first month, we give the entire raise as an offering to God. Sometimes we will use it as additional tithe money and other times, we will use it for another type of giving.
The second month, we split the raise between us to use as mad money for our different projects.
The third month, we move it into the budget with half going towards savings and the other half going wherever it is needed.
SMALL UNDESIGNATED GIVING
I like to keep $5 to $20 case to give when I encounter those in need. This might be someone in the church who is highlighted as needing help or it might be someone on the street asking for money.
In bygone days, I hesitated to give to people on the street who seemed likely to spend the money on alcohol or drugs.
However, my friend Brendan challenged my thinking here by pointing out that our responsibility is simply to give and their responsibility is on how the money is used. Scripture does not make any stipulation on giving to the poor and I’m quite sure that not everyone the disciples gave money to were using that money for pure uses.
LARGE UNDESIGNATED GIVING
Finally, we keep some giving aside to give as needed, but in a larger way.
I tend to use this for one time giving that falls into a few categories:
1) Young people doing short term missions. I believe it’s good to encourage people to take these trips and experience ministry.
2) Money to help people who are working hard to be self-supporting, but are having a down month. This is essentially money we use to help out someone who is almost to the point where they feel they have their feet under them, but have an unexpected bill .
3) Medium sized gifts to ministries or focus groups that my friends are a part of such as my friend Chuck who raises money every year for food banks and environmental research or others who do runs to support cancer research.
LOTS OF WAYS TO GIVE
You’re giving will not look like my giving. Perhaps your giving will be focused singularly on a cause that means so much to that even the many other good things that there are to support will have no sway.
Good for you.
I hope you find joy and blessing in your giving, and I hope the above sparked some ideas.