Your church budget starts at the same place your church attendance does at a new church plant. Not zero but close. For instance, we started with 5 people (one was me and the other four had my last name). So, our attendance was 5 and our giving was the tithes and offerings that we contributed. Don’t get me wrong, we had raised support from about 20 churches that sent money faithfully plus I had a bi-vocational income that went into the fund pool…but as far as local giving it was just us.
The clock begins to tick in the mind of a planter the moment we move onto the field. Our partners will only support us for so long. That means our church will need to learn to give so that local giving will eventually replace outside giving.
Unfortunately, people don’t show up at your new church plant with an automatic understanding of the importance of giving to The Lord and His work. They also do not show up with a home budget that has room in it to give to such a cause. How does a church planter cast a vision of giving then? Here are a few do’s and ‘do nots’ that I have found thus far:
Don’t give to get. Just like the example in Acts 8 where Simon offers the apostles money to get power from God, we do not ever want to paint a picture of giving to get.
Don’t give to measure. As in Mark 12 with the poor woman giving 2 mites, we don’t give to impress based upon a large offering nor do we neglect to give because we do not think our gift is significant. Obedience is measured by action.
Don’t give to budget. As much as we want to give to support the work of ministry, we do not want to teach people to give in a needs-based way only. We should give generously in good times and in bad.
Do give because its Biblical. Although many will argue about tithe and net and gross and all kinds of foolishness, giving generously is Biblical. It is a core of the early church as you will read in Acts 2.
Do give Sacrificially. Let’s be honest, in our comfortable american christianity, we could give 10 or 15% and not really sacrifice much. Romans 12:1-2 tell us our life is to be a living sacrifice. Learning to sacrifice my abundance to see the Kingdom expand is vital.
As an aside, we don’t pass a plate. We do make a point of casting the vision and asking for our attendees to give each time we gather. We do show them a budget monthly and try and tie that to vision at every level. We do try and show the effects of their sacrificial generosity at every opportunity. We do not give finances an idol-like position over other areas of giving (time, spiritual gifts, etc.).