Jul 6, 2005

Here Comes The Contribution Plate Again

The church where I assemble unveiled their 2005 budget recently, and it’s alarming where the elders have allocated the bulk of the offerings. If this budget is typical for modern churches I shudder to think where our hearts and priorities are leading us. Does the church where you meet allocate the Lords money with the same basic priorities of ministers and buildings first?

Perhaps I’m just a caveman in the modern era and don’t understand the nuances of modern budget allocation, but I get the feeling that many larger churches are rightly earning their reputations of being just another country club with the emphasis on themselves rather than showing love to the lost, hungry, and hurting in their communities.

How cheerfully can I present my offering on the first day of the week knowing that over 80% of my offering will go to ministerial salaries, mortgages, utilities, Insurance, Praise team supplies, and facility management! Ministerial salaries alone where I attend are $379,840 per year. I realize that oxen were permitted to eat of the grain while they were working, but I doubt they were allowed to gobble up the entire crop.

Another 7% is used for various men, women, and children ministries. Where I meet (approx. 1000 members) 87% of the contribution is earmarked for in-house expenditures. I have a problem with this!

A relatively token amount to care for orphans, feed the hungry, and benevolence is allocated, but the bulk of our offering is required just to maintain the ministers and the buildings. Perhaps I am looking at this whole contribution system wrong. If God is pleased with us spending the money on ourselves; continually improving our physical buildings and hiring more and more ministers for every conceivable project, then I am completely wrong!

If we can house, clothe, feed, and basically support an orphan through Lifeline of Hope for $10 per month, doesn’t this reflect Gods love more than utilizing the contributions on ourselves? $87 of every $100 I offer to the Lord is already designated for my comfort, recreation, and evidently the privilege to worship where we have gorgeous buildings and beautiful manicured yards.

Pushing the contribution plate under my nose just to add greater flair to our buildings and grounds, in my opinion, is wrong. My answer to this dilemma is to reverse the percentage of my offering; Now I offer 13% to the church where I assemble, and 87% to Lifeline of Hope and the Manuelito Navajo Children’s Home.

We are to offer our gifts of money cheerfully; with this in mind, I feel much more cheerful knowing I can support 15–20 orphans each month rather than offering a blank check each week to a church where we heap the money on ourselves. If you stumble on to this post and disagree, please comment and let me know where this is wrong, I have certainly been wrong before, and may be now.


JD said...

I like the ministries you have chosen to support. Likely some percentage of the monies you donate to them will go to overhead: salaried personnel, mail-outs, electric bills, etc. But they do a lot of good overall.

A church with 1000 people has big needs to be sure. I have no way of knowing if there is overkill in the salary department or not. But I reckon they do a lot of good overall.

Likely it is true that 1,000 people feel they can call on any one of the ministers 24/7. If there is a death or crisis, a minister will get a call in the middle of the night. He did sign on for this, true. But why is there a minister there at that church? Because he is doing a lot of the stuff that no one else will do. He has to take the crap off of the elders and members that most people do not know about. And he hopes that by his efforts more people will be saved. So, a good pay for his work is not out of order, in my opinion.

I doubt this will gain much sympathy from the blog world. And like I said, I don't know all the details of your situation.

Think of it this way. If all of the 1000 members did what you have decided to do, then there would be no facility in which to meet. No ministers would be on staff. And whatever good is being done by the congregate would cease to be done.

In a dreamer's world, all those people would bust up into house churches and expand like crazy!

In reality, those 1000 people would likely go to other churches in the area and the cycle would continue.

It's a catch 22. The situation exists because most people want to be SERVED, and have great expectations. And if those expectations are not met, they will go somewhere else.

You can appreciate the good your church does currently, or not.

For the record, I do not agree with every item in my church's budget, even though as a preacher my salary is a big part of it. We are not to give by compulsion. So, I wish you well in your dilemma ... and I wish your church well in the dilemmas they certainly face.

Are there other churches in the area that are more in keeping with your idea of what the budget should be about? Just a question ... not nudging you out of your nest!

Larry said...

JD... Thanks for your comments.

Realistically you are correct, however, I do occasionally love to live in a "...dreamers world." :)

Excessive overhead is my primary concern. A church earmarking nearly all its resources for the building, and providing salaries to multiple ministers with nothing remaining to help their community strikes me as being self-centered.

Another catch 22; the more we offer monetarily to some churches the more they spend on themselves by adding additional buildings and hiring more ministers. They still don't go into their neighborhoods to help.

Always appreciate your remarks, you do make me think!