Everything we have comes from God and we should use his gifts to us in ways that honour Him.
God has been extremely generous to us through the death of his Son, who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, so that through his poverty we might become rich. If we truly understand this gospel, we will cheerfully give as much as we can, and even beyond our ability. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
The Bible provides the following teaching about using the money God has given us :
- We should faithfully pay what we owe:
- to governments
- to our families
- to provide for the poor believer
- to our pastors
- to support ourselves
- We should generously give to the poor
- We should engage in partnership with those in gospel ministry
- We should be prudent with what we have
- We must flee from greed
How to plan to be generous
Many of us find is hard to plan our giving. When we do, we tend work it out from the money we have left over. If we are going to be generous, we need to work out how much to give, and then figure out how to live off the rest.
Here is one process that might be helpful
- Plan your financial generosity at a given time each year. Just after Christmas isn’t all that good, it probably is easiest doing this is just after you put in your tax return.
- Pray and read the Bible (eg Ephesians 1).
- Decide on an adventurous percentage for gospel work.
- Brainstorm who to give to, and allocate a percentage of your total giving.
- Calculate your combined after-tax income per month.
- Based on your percentages, figure out the dollar amounts of your gifts.
- Work creatively with your finances in order to afford this amount.
- Fill in the direct debit forms or set up the direct credit over the internet.
- Use your bank statement to pray for each ministry.
- Set a review date in your diary for the following year.
Being a responsible steward
While most of us are tempted to give less that we are able, it is possible to give too much. It is sinful for us to neglect our families, or fail to pay what we owe to the government.
Furthermore, we should be planning our finances to make sure that we can sustain ministry in the long term:
- We all need a rain-shelter for our unpaid ministry after age 65 (retirement), so aim towards having a house or unit that has been fully paid-off by then.
- We also need food on the table for this unpaid ministry. For most Christians, superannuation is the best way to be saving for retirement. It makes a huge difference if you learn how to make your super really work hard when you are young.
- Save for large anticipated expenses. Think carefully about your likely expenses over the next 5 to 10 years and start savings for them now. Do not take out a loan for anything that goes down in value!
- Plan for worst-case scenarios. You can update your will with most solicitors. Christians should also carefully consider the benefits of the various types of life insurance with a professional.
We need to be reminded that the true home of a Christian is in heaven and that we are to manage our expenses as strangers and aliens in Australia. We should not love or put our trust in fleeting earthly riches and to live godly lives being content with what we have.
How to give to Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church
If we seek to be generous, our giving should extend beyond ministries that we ourselves benefit from. However, within this, we should place a priority on funding our own church to ensure we aren’t effectively sponging off our brothers and sisters. There are several ways to give to church.
Direct Debit is where you authorise the church to debit an amount from your bank account or credit card at regular intervals. For bank accounts, the church pays a very small fixed fee for each transaction. The fees from credit cards are usually higher, and depend on the dollar amount given.
Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church runs its direct debit facility through the Glebe Group, an organisation owned by the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church. Glebe collects this money on our behalf and transfers it to one of our accounts. If you want to use direct debit, forms are available from http://www.glebegroup.com.au/pg/pg.htm. Drop the completed forms into the red toolbox or post it to PO Box 817, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650.
Direct Credit is where you make payments over the internet from your bank account to WWEC’s bank account. You also might be able to arrange to have your employer deposit some of your pay directly to church.
Use the following account details:
Wagga Wagga Evangelical Church Incorporated
The Red Toolbox
One use for the Red Toolbox is to give to church by cash or cheque. As someone needs to count the cash and bank the money, we prefer direct credit or direct debit. These other methods also encourage regular giving, even when you miss church.
If you need a receipt for a gift, put your cash or cheques in an envelope, write your name and address on the envelope and that you will need a receipt. We will then post a receipt to you.
Other ways of giving
There are some special options available for giving for those that have investments or are self-employed.
A Support Account is a special investment account set by the Glebe Group. All of the interest earned is deposited into a nominated ministry organisation’s account. As the interest isn’t awarded to you, this can be a tax effective way of giving to church.
Self-employed people may be able distribute income to church through a trust structure, meaning gifts to church could be made in a tax effective way. These structures are complex and need the advice of an accountant.
Giving and confidentiality
In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus warns against doing your ‘acts of righteousness’ in a way that attracts praise from men, and therefore encourages the giving to be made in secret. Therefore it is right to be concerned about how information about your giving could be used.
Confidentiality and costs
Someone at church uses the information on the form to set up the direct debit, and files the form. The church pays a small transaction fee.
Depending on the bank, the account name could be printed in the church’s bank statements. The giver may need to pay transaction fees.
The Red Toolbox
Anonymous cash can’t be identified, but cheques are itemised in receipt books. However it is hardest to give regularly this way, and it means someone has to handle the cash and bank it, making it the most inconvenient for church administration.
To protect confidentiality, the church:
• doesn’t collate giving information about individuals,
• has authorised only four people to access the church’s bank accounts, and
• doesn’t allow any pastoral staff to have access the bank accounts
The material in this part is largely taken from material provided by St Matthias Church, Paddington, and an article in Hippocampus Extensions written by Andrew Hingston. Andrew’s article is well worth reading in full, and can be found at http://hippocampusextensions.com/issues/03/a_call_to_be_financially_adventurous.php.