A month ago my family and I were driving to church and my oldest son Jonathon asked a question out of the blue:
If churches already collect the tithe from everyone, why are there building campaigns? I mean, it seems to me that churches should save their money to afford a building with the budget they have, or not move. Am I missing something?
Before we go any further, let me clearly state this: The church we attend is not having a building campaign and has no plans for one. Our senior pastor told us that in the new members’ class.
As a family, we talked about the idea of a giving campaign the rest of the way to church. I explained to Jonathon church expenses can outstrip their needs. Expanding the kingdom costs money. Reaching more people isn’t free. Community outreaches and giveaways and electricity and salaries all have a cost.
He heard me walk through all my explanations. I do have a degree in Biblical Studies, so I am quite learned in such things, you know. Then wisdom escaped his mouth again:
If we are told to be good stewards with our money, and we give our tithe and more to the church, isn’t it their job to be good stewards with the money they are given? Dad, as a family we can’t run a campaign when we don’t have the money to pay electricity. The power just gets shut off. Why is the church different?
I was out of answers from a Biblical Studies trained mind. Baffled by the truth and simplicity of my son’s statements. We make things too complex as adults. Sometimes it takes a mind less flooded with reasoned excuses and experience in the ways of life to see the truth. I realized there are actually very few reasons for a church to run an additional giving campaign if they are managing their money wisely.
Hold a special offering for the guest speaker? Sure, maybe those funds can help the itinerant preacher. After all, a worker is worthy of his wages.
Run a missions month and ask for gifts to sponsored missionaries? Absolutely! These brave individuals have given up their worldly goods for the sake of the kingdom.
Ask for more money to build a new building, or pay off the existing one? I don’t see it. The church leadership should have planned enough to cover their needs.
There are some exceptions. Break ground on a building at the start of a recession and you might be in trouble. Church members will usually choose buying food over tithing. You cannot plan for or control this. But making an intentional plan to rely on members to give over and above their tithe to fund a new building is just poor stewardship.
So what, you might ask? So not all churches are being faithful with the money given to them. What does it really matter? There is nothing I can do anyway unless I leave the church, right?
Wrong! We always have options.
Whether you have any direct financial background or not, you can offer your services to the pastor and staff. We all have budgeting skills on some level, because we have to run our own household. Offer to help with the budget, or identify savings opportunities within church operations. Maybe your offer will be rejected, but you will never know unless you ask.
Not all pastors will respond kindly to this. Some may even become angry at the insinuation any help with financial management is necessary. And with the wrong approach, their offense may be warranted. We must lead out of our convictions: to see our church honor God with her resources and to serve as many people as possible.
Now we can lead from our convictions and still be rejected. This doesn’t mean leave the church, or allow anger toward the leadership to settle into our hearts.
Rather, we can make a choice to more actively pray for our church leadership. Simply pray for wisdom and financial blessing for your church. God is in the business of answering our prayers, so don’t underestimate how He might move.
We can also ask a follow-up question after our initial conversation:
My heart is really moved toward our church being financially wise. How else can I step into this type of ministry?
I expect the answer to this question will be very positive, and potentially lead to new ministry opportunities.
What do you think about church building campaigns?