“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.” –C.S. Lewis
As I enter my new position with Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rosedale, MD, I have been remembering one of the many conversations that I had with my Dad while I was in seminary. It was about faithful giving to the congregation that you serve. My Dad always told me, “If you ask others to give, you must first be willing to give yourself.”
My parents have always been incredibly generous givers and have worked hard to tithe to the church for their entire marriage. Even when my Dad was a poor parish pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Baltimore (now Amazing Grace), with three growing children, and lots of school debt, both he and my mom made every effort to give fully to the church and to the community. My mom used to tell me, it would be nerve-wracking from week to week when they would write a check for the offering. Writing that check would mean living scarcely until the next pay check. But, she would also tell me that whenever they would run into difficult times, somehow, some way they would make it through that time and everything turned out all right.
From their example, I have prayerfully decided that I will follow in their footsteps and tithe (which means giving a tenth or ten percent of my income before paying other bills and other spending) to the church in order to further the mission of Prince of Peace and God’s work in the community. I know there will be months and years when tithing will feel a lot harder – when my car breaks down, or a pipe bursts and I need call a plumber right away – and placing a check in the offering plate will feel more like gambling then an offering to God. But even in those times, my parents have taught me that it is then that it is so important that we continue to give as we always do.
As we enter into the programmatic year, many congregations are entering into the pledge season when our congregations will hand out pledge cards for the coming year so that the congregation can faithfully create a budget that reflects the mission of the church for the upcoming year. This is the time when we prayerfully consider how much we can offer to God for the mission of the church.
During this time, I invite you to talk to me. You may ask me any questions about my giving and how I budget my giving each week so that I can consistently tithe but still be able to pay bills and have money to live. I encourage you to talk with your families openly about your giving. I invite you to ask discerning questions to your church council and pastor and ask how your offerings are used to the church’s mission .
I have just signed up for weekly online giving which is automatically deducted from my bank account each week. Whether or not I am present, I am still a member of my community and a part of my congregation and my offering should still be present to support the mission of this church.
Our offerings to God – time, talent, and treasure – are ways in which we bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth. I ask you to join me in prayerfully considering your giving for this coming year and towards furthering the church’s mission in the world.