Several years ago when I was serving another church, I had a conversation with a close friend and church member that changed the way I think about giving. He hadn’t grown up in church, but was now finding later in life that he and his family were becoming more and more engaged with our church.
They had been attending regularly and were even starting to serve in different ways, but hadn’t quite taken that next step of supporting the church financially. The church was important to them, and it hit them that they might also be important to the church. They knew they needed to make a change.
We were talking about all of these things, and he told me that they had made the decision too start giving to the church. I said that sounded great and that they would be glad they did, but then asked me a question that I didn’t expect:
“But how do we give?”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“I mean, how do you give to the church? What do we do? How much are we supposed to give? We can’t give 10% right now—is that okay? I’ve never done this before.”
It wasn’t until that moment that I realized that giving is something we learn. Now, I don’t mean the desire to give—I believe that comes naturally. I’m talking more about giving well: giving with care, conviction and generosity. Giving in this way doesn’t come naturally, but is a discipline that must be learned.
We probably don’t talk as much as we should about what it means to give well at the church, and that’s something that our Stewardship Committees hopes to improve upon in the coming year. But here are a few thoughts to get us started:
- If you don’t currently give, make it your goal to start this year. Don’t get hung up on tithing—make giving 10% a goal to work up to. Start with a percentage you’re comfortable with and do your best to stick to it.
- If you already give occasionally, make it your goal to give regularly. Consider setting up an automated draft from your bank. Audrey and I have been doing this for years and love it—don’t worry, it’s not cheating!
- If you already give regularly, make it a goal to give more this year than you did the year before. Maybe it’s 1/2% or even 1%—the increment isn’t as important as the trend.
- If your situation has changed in the past year and you’re unable to give as you have in the past—give what you can, and feel good about it. Giving is an act of community and Scripture is filled with examples of God taking small gifts and doing miraculous things with it.
Giving well doesn't come naturally. In fact, at times it cuts against some of our deepest impulses and insecurities. It’s something that we learn, and hope to grow into with time. Which is to say—and this is important, too— it’s also something we teach.
Wherever you find yourself in this cycle, I’m grateful for your presence in this place and with these people, hope you’ll join us on November 6 as we commit ourselves to growing in faith and in giving together again for another year.