Giving and the way we give has changed over the years. I grew up in a time when “unified budget” was encouraged. All gifts were undesignated and church leadership made the decision how to use the money. I like that concept and still give my gift to the church undesignated to the General Fund. I think a real gift does mean giving control outside ourselves.
Today, more and more gifts to and through the church are designated. This is especially true of younger generations. People have causes, passions or their way of getting involved. There is nothing unbiblical about that, it just makes it more challenging for church leaders. Even on the General and Regional levels of the Church this change has been felt.
The problem is that money in local congregations is shrinking. Gifts are going down, cost of operating a local congregation are going up and money that is available to go to other causes (while worthy) are going down. How do we address that issue? I used to address it by guilt, but soon learned that to be counter productive. Education is the best way. The story has to be told and it has to be told in a way that invites the giver to want to give to the cause. This is especially true in a world that is filled with designated giving mentality.
Hillside does mission giving in two ways. Money that is budgeted goes to local non-disciple organizations or causes. Special giving goes directly to Disciple groups or causes.
1. Week of Compassion goes to disaster assistance around the world
2. Easter Offering goes to the General Church (National & Overseas Missions)
3. Pentecost goes to starting new churches
4. Blanket Sunday goes to disaster assistance around the world
5. Reconciliation goes to combating poverty in our Food Bank
6. Thanksgiving goes to higher education (colleges & seminaries)
7. Christmas Offering goes to the Regional Church
I got a letter one time from the General Church that talked about how much we give through our budget. While the letter reflected very well on our Disciples Women’s giving, it said nothing about the designated gifts listed above. I returned the letter with a note, that half a truth is no truth at all. If we are going to use guilt, let’s tell the whole story.
Do we as a congregation need to give more to missions? Absolutely! Do we need to do more and better ministry in our local community? Absolutely! Do we need to expand our budget and offer more to our members? Absolutely! Do each of us need to be better and more faithful givers to the church? ABSOLUTELY!