Can I trust my church with my money?
Last fall, our family removed ourselves from membership in a church near our home and began to visit various churches in our area. Since December, we have been attending a church that we are very excited about and we plan to become members of that church in the near future. In the last week, we have also chosen to financially support that ministry.
I have written on the subject of giving to one’s church several times here at Gather Little by Little, you can read some of my philosophy and beliefs about that subject here and here. Today, I want to list several characteristics of a church that is worth your financial support. Remember that here at Gather Little by Little, we believe that membership in and attendance of a local church are bottom-line, basic requirements for a believer. Scripture does not allow for a believer who is outside of the body of Christ. Beyond that, financial giving is biblically required of church members. This is one of the many reasons why choosing a church is not a decision to be taken lightly.
A church that is worthy of your financial support must be:
A church that is open and honest.
Before we started giving to our current church, I pulled one of the elders aside to ask a few questions about the finances of the church. He immediately answered all of my questions and promised to send me as much information as he could. In less than a week, I was looking at the complete financial picture of the church – and I was not even a member. I know the salary of our pastor, the monthly income of the church and what they spent on utilities last month.
A church that is locally focused.
Too many pastors today are interested in building their name recognition rather than building the lives of those in their flock. These are pastors who seek publicity and seem to be always looking to spend church money in other states and far away lands. These churches like to be members of national movements and fads. The danger is that such ministries start to forget why they exist, they leave their first love. Many times, these churches become a lightening rod for controversy and make themselves a target. In the meantime, the needs of the faithful members of the flock are overlooked because of the demands placed upon the pastor’s time and the resources of the church by needs outside of the congregation.
A church that does not see dollar signs instead of people.
I once heard a pastor tell other pastors that “the best way to increase your salary is to increase the size of your church”. What an abominable statement! This pastor was probably one of those who changes his level of “care” based on the size of a church member’s wallet. James condemns this kind of thinking in chapter 2:1-7:
My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
On the other hand, Mrs. Stew and I were once members of a church that spent months caring for the needs of a poor, disabled man whose wife passed away suddenly. I will never forget the example of sacrificial, Christian love that I saw on display during that time. That is a church that can be trusted with my money.
A church that sets good priorities.
You can entrust your money to a church that sets good financial priorities and then sticks to them. You want to give to a church that considers financial decisions carefully. Many financial mistakes are made through snap decisions. Make sure that your church has a good process for vetting projects and financial goals.
On Wednesday, I will share four more characteristics of the church that can be trusted with your money.
Article by Stew
Photo by jsorbieus