one thing we have noticed in visiting churches this year is that budgets are in deep trouble. It is to be expected in a recession like this that church receipts would be down significantly, but we have seen several churches who have in 2009 received only 35 and 40% of the amount that they had budgeted to receive.
Todd Hiestand takes a look at whether or not American Christians are selfish and what some of the factor are that inhibit giving to the local church or to parachurch organizations. very interesting stuff.
here are the first two of five reasons that he believes inhibit giving:
Reason #1 – We are shackled with debt.
I believe this is one of the biggest reasons we aren’t more generous. We just can’t be. Every dollar we make is accounted for and the flex that we have after we take care of teh necessities is taken up in debt payments. I know that in my congregation there are some who wish they could give more but they just can’t figure out how to because they are paying off so much debt. The biggest issue is that most of us don’t know how to get out. That’s a big responsibility of the church in my mind. We need to help people live healthier financial lives. Not for the sake of reasonability. Not just because its a wiser way to live. I think far too often teh call to being debt free is couched in reasons that aren’t based on mission. But, we need to call people to a debt free lifestyle so they can more freely respond to the needs of others.
Reason #2 – Our churches aren’t worth giving to
I think this is a significant issue our churches need to face. If fact #6 above is correct, I think we can’t just blame it on selfishness. I have found that when a church is doing something that is perceived as significant, people generously and freely give financially towards it. But I believe that most of what our churches do is not worth giving too. If most of what the church does is inward focused, then I too would not be too excited to give to the local church. If our churches were more mission focused and outward focused in their very nature and we told the stories of what God was doing through them, I believe we’d have a different story here. I’m happy to give to buildings, salaries and programs if those buildings, salaries and programs are changing the world and doing the work of the kingdom. Sadly, I just don’t think this is generally the case.
go read the rest of Todd’s post for six facts about giving and the other three reasons that Todd believes that christians fail to give.