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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Stewardship Series in January? You in?

StewardshipI know that we've had quite the debate at times here at MMI over tithing.  I don't want this post to do that.

But I am interested in just how many of your churches do some type of stewardship series during the first quarter of this year.  It seems that this is pretty standard in many churchs (mine included).  What topics do you discuss?  How is it received?  And what effect does it have on your local stewardship?

Brian Kluth of MaximumGenerosity.org has a free guide to help you if you're looking for ideas for this type of series.  You can download it here.

BTW... the best financial series I've heard in a LONG time is the one recently done by Andy Stanley called "Lost".  Great stuff.  (I think you can still watch and listen to it at NorthPoint's website).

Todd

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February 1, 2006 in Church Finances | Permalink

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We DID talk about stewardship in January, as part of a series on worship. It was all about how EVERYTHING belongs to God. "Tithing" was a TEENY portion of that message. We talked about how our time and gifts belong to God, and we need to offer THEM up to Him according to our capacity.

Most congregants don't know that preachers hate preaching about giving to the church as much as congregations hate hearing about it!

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Feb 1, 2006 7:09:34 AM

At the church I go to, they preach a whole month on stewardship (October), I call it hazing month. (even to the pastor and to his son - who is responsible to shake dow.. I mean secure donations)

We have almost 1500 families who attend regularly (which is considered 2 or more Sundays a month) of which 1000+ tithe (or more accurately claim to tithe). This is the fourth time I've heard the stewardship sermons and this time around we were informed:

1. Everyone can tithe, no matter their income.
2. It might be you can't afford that house or that car or cars that you have instead of not affording tithing.
3. A tithe of time for worship is 5.2 hours a week - which if you go to church, Sunday school and Wednesday service, you've got 4.5 hours done, prayer each day can fullfill that. (I was out of the room when he came up with the 5.2 - I volunteer to serve and was at my duties)
4. All of your tithe is required to be in the local storehouse (i.e. his church)
5. Sacrificial giving above the tithe should be done on a regular basis (again, to the church)
6. After those two, I suppose, if we have any money left, we can seek out other giving outside the local church.
7. The average giving of the families is just about $5400 (per year)
8. If the 450+ families 'would get on board' we'd almost meet our 'challenge' gift of 2.5 million (for the end of the year for building two new building of $8.5M)
9. If the 450+ families had one parent in an adulterous relationship, the church leadership would be at fault for not preaching on it, so, because that many families are not tithing, they must preach.
10. We don't preach prosperity preaching.
11. When (some person) was down to their last $10 and still gave God the tithe, the next day they got $100 given to them.
12. We don't preach prosperity preaching.
13. When (some other person)'s business was failing and it was either the rent money and payroll or the tithe, they gave the money to the church and then, in the next couple week, landed millions in business.
14. We don't preach prosperity preaching.
15. When (unemployed bloke) was laid off with severage and tithed and then his wife got cancer and they still tithed, he got a job and she got cured. (side note, pray for her, she has relapsed and hard too, they are a good faithful hard working family who dearly love each other)
16. We don't preach prosperity preaching.
17. Give to God and He will open heaven and pour out blessings you can't hold.
18. We don't preach prosperity preaching.
19. Because of all we're doing here, it is obvious the hand of the Lord is on us.

did I mention, they don't preach prosperity preaching?

Our pastor doesn't hate preaching about stewardship.

Oh, and his favorite opening and closing phrases are:

"I've never met anyone who got mad about preaching on the tithe who was a tither"

Afterward, he requests that everyone fill out a tithing promise, it includes a chart on the back so people can know how much, according to their income what to give. Which reminds me:

20. Tithe on the gross pay.
21. If both husband and wife work, both tithe on the gross.
22. All teens who earn should also tithe.
23. Tithe on your allowance.
24. If you feel lead (like pastor and his wife) to back tithe on all of your income since you became a Christian, they will honor that as well. Because pastor said he didn't want to rob from God.
25. Not tithing is robbing from God.

The net effect is people pony up and give some more. Then we learn this:

26. Don't give up because the blessings from God don't come immediately (this usually is preached a couple weeks out from the stewardship sermons)
27. Don't be a quiter on God.
28. Satan is just testing you.

The end result is some additional people come on board for tithing each year, more then leave off the practice. It is received well in the church and is expected. We learn:

29. Pastor gets TONS of emails on thanks for preaching the biblical way to worship through giving the tithe to the church.
30. Pastor will get one or two negative emails from people who, apparently, can't write, spell or think with a clear mind on scripture (as he reads them in front of the church)

This year was especially "special" - with the building challenge gift due at the EOY, he took time (significant amount of it) during our Christmas service to pimp extra giving for the new buildings, slaughtering his message almost making the birth of Jesus a footnote (we also had family communion that day - which was a ploy to get families to the front where we could also offer special gifts in the model of the new buildings - I kid you not, he said while we were coming for family communion we could also offer a special gift for the new buildings) - totally ruined service for me, my parents came to visit and I was so embarrased I was apologizing before we even made it to the car. One thing our pastor isn't is inept at public speaking and putting together a sermon and he totally failed on Christmas.

All I can say is:
2 Corinthians 9:7
So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

I've found a small church where the service isn't as polished, not as professional - but WOW - they sing from the heart, the pastor has passion about the gospel and is willing to get emotional, overflowing his joy out for us to participate. They have a lot of outreach and missions ministry. I call it 'raw' by comparison to what we've been in and my family is in the process of transitioning there. We have obligations we've told people we would do that we will not abandon - our yes is yes.

My suggestion to any pastor wanting to give a sermon or series on tithing, speak from the heart grab their hearts. Let your emotions be known. Teach that we're given everything from God to enhance His kingdom, not ours. Preach that the greatest gifts are ones that are given out of love and dedication to the lord. Preach that we're abundantly blessed merely being born in the USA (for those who are) and able to worship without persecution and punishment and God awaits to see what we will do with the blessing we've already received. Explain how the church uses the money to reach the lost, to minister to the orphans and widows, to reach people in prison, to feed the poor and homeless - tell them 30% to 60% of the money coming in is used directly to support, minister, reach people for Christ. Give them permission to give as Paul said in the gospel, as their hearts lead them and for the kingdom of God. Lastly, explain that a family (and singles) should determine what consistant, regular giving they want to do and stick to it. Ask the people to commit to something so a reliable budget can be made, explain this to the people, spend some time on it so they understand that some of the money will go to the staff and some consistant regular giving needs to happen. While (it should be clear), I don't believe in merely preaching a tithe, I do believe that preaching on supporting the work of God through time and money and even full time service should be done. I've been at a place where I thought 10% is all I needed to do to be a 'good' Christain. Now I need to look at it as if God owns 100%, how much of it do I take for myself.

I do understand how and even why preachers preach on a tithe. I've seen both sides of the matter and I'm not disputing tithe teaching. (after all, I could be wrong in how I think)

Posted by: Paul Davis | Feb 1, 2006 9:44:50 AM

To be honest since I am Youth Pastor and not the Senior Pastor, I leave the tithe speaking to S.P. He talks about it on one or two Sundays a year. Plus we just went through a stewardship campaign to raise money for a building.

Posted by: Jade | Feb 1, 2006 11:22:54 AM

Paul Davis said:
""I've never met anyone who got mad about preaching on the tithe who was a tither""

Talk to me, then.

Bernie
503-317-0746

It's simply irresponsible to teach that Christians must tithe, for anyone who claims to teach biblical truths. If you teach stewardship, per the parable of the talents (as one example), you'd do much better. But it would drastically change the lives of your church members, and yourself, for the better.

...Bernie
http://fgn.typepad.com/

PS: Todd, there's no way to avoid the "tithing" topic if you want to talk about stewardship... many (most?) evangelical preachers think it is one and the same. I don't think it is true, however, for most of those who are the biblical scholars... they know better.

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 1, 2006 11:25:06 AM

Good stuff Paul... Jade, has your SP gone to bat for YOUR salary?

There is a reason money is a major theme in the Gospels.... You can have an opinion about raising children or which missionary is truly called, and it doesn't make me feel guilty when I walk out to my $60,000 set of tires in the parking lot...

Posted by: Jeff | Feb 1, 2006 11:29:39 AM

Bernie - I figured you'd chime in and I know your upset about tithe preaching. I too find it either oppressive on those unable to give due to circumstances in their lives or irresponsible to those who are able to give far abundantly more then a mere 10%.

also, keep in mind, those quoted words weren't mine, they were the pastor's - and, perhaps, I wasn't clear. I don't agree with him.

Posted by: Paul Davis | Feb 1, 2006 12:08:24 PM

Hi Paul-

After I wrote it, I noticed it was from your "sarcasm" side and later saw that we pretty much agree... although you still have lingering doubts about whether tithing should be practiced for Christians, as pro-tithers define "tithing" (which is not biblical, but due to an interpretation).

We agree 100% when you say:
" I too find it either oppressive on those unable to give due to circumstances in their lives or irresponsible to those who are able to give far abundantly more then a mere 10%."

And yet those are the abuses put forth by many, if not most, evangelical churches... at least, they don't correct the errors. They say the poor should tithe-- to get blessed and enriched. They let the rich off easy, so they can indulge in greed once they give their minimum... seared consciouses... like the $60,ooo set of tires comment (I hope that was a joke, but if it's from someone like TD Jakes, it would be serious).

...Bernie

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 1, 2006 12:20:39 PM

Our church is doing a series on Philippians and came to chapter 4 where Paul praises them for their generosity. In our small group discussion of the sermon last night, we cross-referenced to 1 Cor 9 - but not verse 7 (the infamous envelope verse!). Rather, verse 11 stuck out to me: "You will be made rich in every way SO THAT you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (emphasis mine)

I have often heard the message that as you give, God will bless in return (Mal 3:10). But I've seldom heard anyone preach on the REASON that God will bless you in return - "so that you can be [even more] generous" and so that God will be thanked and glorified!

Posted by: Randy Ehle | Feb 1, 2006 12:53:48 PM

The best message I ever heard was from a church in California.

Speaking about Tithing. A law we are no longer under.

The pastor was clear that God had the abundance of wealth beyond any of our imaginations, explaining the cost of building a Jerusalem like the one in Revelation and the cost to maintain it and employees (Security) to watch it... etc.

He ended with: "God doesn't Need your money and He doesn't Need you but He does offer to utterly Save you when you cry out to Him." Those that are Utterly Saved, what do you have to offer God but your entire life. Those that are not Saved, worry about that first, the building will be here if God wants it here or not. He will maintain it if it needs maintaining and He will secure it if it needs secured. He will provide, with or without you.

Do you want to keep your money? Then do so in Him and in Joy. Share where you feel led. Do you want to give your money? Then do so in Him and in Joy. Share where you feel led. But it earns you nothing more than the Joy of giving to God in thanks for what He gave for you and I.

This in the end is one way of worshiping our God in value.

Like being your beloved wife a small diamond or large diamond is placing value in her. The wealthy man who purchases the large diamond does so out of the value of his heart for his beloved and loves her just as much as the not-so-wealthy man who can only purchase the small diamond for his wife.

Both women knew the sacrifice of the gift and the heart behind it.

Posted by: BeHim | Feb 1, 2006 12:57:48 PM

Jeff,
What does my S.P. going to bat for my salary have to due with Stewardship? And He would if he had to, but I don't have a problem with how much the church gives me. He makes sure we get raises every year.

Posted by: Jade | Feb 1, 2006 2:09:42 PM

Yes we just finished a three week series on giving here. We talked about tithing not as law but as opportunity and did so in the context of giving our whole lives over to God.

You might remember the story of the man who went to be baptised and as he was going down into the water stopped and pulled out his wallet and gave it to the preacher saying, "Would you hold this, I don't want to get my money wet." To which the preacher replyed. "Son, put that back in your pocket because your money needs baptising right along with you."

Posted by: sid | Feb 1, 2006 4:12:24 PM

Sid- did he baptize the whole wallet, or just 10% of it? Likewise, how much of the money belongs to God? It's the same thing. If we are stewards, it all belongs to God, not just 10%.

Also, giving to God is not the same as giving to church. When the Apostle Paul collected money, it was not for the church (as in church building and Pastors), but for the poor church members in Jerusalem.

...Bernie

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 1, 2006 4:27:26 PM

Todd,

They don't allow our Pator to preach on this or have teachers teach on this due to Daniel 5:25. And this was the writing that was written, Mene,mene,tekel, upharsin.

Why? Because a ladies husband got up and left the church. When she arrived home she asked him why he left so early. He said, "I told you one mention about money and I was leaving." She said, "But honey he didn't mention money." "Oh, yes he did too.. He said money, money, tickles the Pastor."
Just kidding... Sorry..

No we do not do anything like this. You have given me a thought though to mention this to our pastor...

Good night all. I am wore out.. I have been busier than a cow's tail in fly season.. Love you all..

Posted by: Clairvoyent 1 | Feb 1, 2006 10:48:53 PM

Berney/CV good ones fellas!

He/she/they who give, let them give with a thankful heart.

Pretty simple really. It's the bills and trust that make it difficult.

Posted by: BeHim | Feb 2, 2006 12:21:35 AM

Behim said:
"Pretty simple really. It's the bills and trust that make it difficult."

Sometimes, it is not the bills, but what they decide to spend money on. If one wants to create a multi-million dollar complex, one's going to run into some issues. One shouldn't twist the Bible's teachings to get what one wants.

If one wants to take a collection for the poor and oppressed Christians in Israel (in the occupied territories), as we have today and as the Apostle Paul did, then one might see an overpouring of generousity like is reported in Scripture. But one shouldn't twist the Apostle Paul's situation into a tithing message... it does violence to the Scripture... and to the understanding of what it means to follow Christ.

...Bernie

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 2, 2006 10:21:14 AM

Bernie,
If it aint all God's 10% don't mean nothing.
But if you say it's all God's and you aren't giving at least 10% I have a major question if your heart and your words are actually lined up.
(Not you as in you Bernie, but people in general. I don't question your faithfulness and don't want to see your W2)

Sorry but show me with your actions that your words are true is just as much a part of our giving as it is our living.

And unless we are ready to tell everyone that we all have to give it all away and become like Saint Francis then a tithe is the place I'm going to start and move up from there.

Posted by: sid | Feb 2, 2006 11:26:52 AM

Sid, you don't make logical sense. You said:

"If it aint all God's 10% don't mean nothing."

How can it be that 100% is Gods and 10% is Gods at the same time? You see the damage that tithe teaching has done to you?

If it all belongs to God, then manage it ALL that way, as a steward. It's unhealthy to think you can give 10% to God, then have the freedom to spend the rest on yourself.

Whatever you give to God does not equate to giving to your local church. How much should you give to your local church? Pray about it. Ask God, instead of the preacher. There are also many other ways to manage God's money, instead of giving it all blindly to the local church.

Get the free book download from my website for more info... written by Russell Kelly, Ph.D. You have to look into the Word of God for yourself, rather than believing the interpretation (false) from tithe teachers.

...Bernie
http://fgn.typepad.com/

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 3, 2006 1:49:02 PM

Bernie, what I was trying to say is that if it isn't all God's to start with then giving 10% is meaningless. If one things that by giving 10% you can then do anything that you want with the other 90% then I don't think you understand what I think is a biblical invitation to tithe.
I imagine that we are going to disagree on tithing Bernie and that is ok. It isn't a make or break issue for me. I find that tithing frees me from the hold that money and things have on me so that I can give 10%+ to the local church as well as give over and above that in many other areas as well. If you don't find the need to tithe to be what helps you deal with money in God honoring ways then more power to you. In the end may we both be found faithful.

Posted by: sid | Feb 3, 2006 3:25:03 PM

Hi Sid-

I admit that tithe teaching taught me to be generous, but I need to go further and I find that tithe teaching is holding me back... and it does an injustice to understanding biblical theology correctly... and it brings injustice onto the poor (who in the OT received tithes, not paid them).

Here's an analogy. A person may get introduced to Christ through mormonism. But as they grow closer to God, they need to dump it in order to get into the fuller truth. They can't stay in mormonism just because it gave them a start. It's unbiblical. Same with tithing.

...Bernie

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 3, 2006 4:29:02 PM

Bernie,

There's a subtle difference there. Virtually every Bible-believing Christian would agree that Mormonism is not orthodox Christianity. The situation on tithing is different, and is defensible in the light of scripture (in the view of most orthodix Christian teachers, as I said), no matter what the book you keep referencing says. Mormonism is NOT defensible in the light of scripture, and virtually every Christian teacher and theologian would state that.

Peter

Posted by: Peter Hamm | Feb 3, 2006 4:35:57 PM

Paul Davis:

"Pastor gets TONS of emails on thanks for preaching the biblical way to worship through giving the tithe to the church."

So, can someone "worship through giving the tithe" to any person(s) or any organization besides the church?

Is meeting a genuine need at the expense of the "church" tantamount to worshipping God "biblically?"

Where in the New Testament does it say, command or imply:

1) That a believer must tithe?

2) That a believer must tithe to the "church?"

3) That tithing is "worshipping God?"

Posted by: Ricky | Feb 3, 2006 5:54:39 PM

Peter:

"The situation on tithing is different, and is defensible in the light of scripture (in the view of most orthodix Christian teachers, as I said), no matter what the book you keep referencing says."

It appears, Peter, that you are as close-minded as the Mormons you condemn.

No one, even your vaunted "orthodox Christian teachers" can justiy tithing by using only the New Testament, which is the story of the Church.


Posted by: Ricky | Feb 3, 2006 6:00:23 PM

Peter said:
"The situation on tithing is different, and is defensible in the light of scripture (in the view of most orthodix Christian teachers, as I said), no matter what the book you keep referencing says."

There is absolutely no proof text for tithing in the NT... not the kind of tithing that is taught by tithing teachers today. Try giving me one... and Todd, this is on topic, since it is about "stewardship."

John MacArthur is another Pastor who plainly teaches how tithe teaching is inappropriate... and he's also written books about giving. See my blog article for excerpts and weblinks.

...Bernie
http://fgn.typepad.com/

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 3, 2006 6:09:29 PM

Can I stop and ask a quick question here?

When did we begin justifying everything "only" by the New Testament? And why would one want to do that?

I'm really curious here, this is not a low blow or ment to be dismissive. Please help me see and understand what you are saying and the reason why one would take this perspective?

Posted by: sid | Feb 3, 2006 6:11:56 PM

Sid said:
"When did we begin justifying everything "only" by the New Testament? And why would one want to do that?"

First, the NT is the mystery revealed. Without it, you'd be offering bloody sacrifices still.

Secondly, who have to know what the tithe was for, in the OT. It was to provide for the Levites who did not get a share of land when Israel took possession. That was their portion. You should also know who was commanded to pay the tithe... and it wasn't the poor. It was only those who raised food within the Holy Land of Israel (ranchers and farmers). Fishermen, carpenters, etc. were not tithers. They gave freewill offerings. To find out more, read the bible... it defines it.

Who is the "priest" today? If you know the NT, you know that all believers are in the Priesthood, and that's not just a play on words.

...Bernie

Posted by: Bernie Dehler | Feb 3, 2006 6:20:28 PM

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