Steve Pierce responds to your financial concerns
Should new Christians be asked to start giving to the church as soon as they become members?
Yes. It is often said that Martin Luther spoke of three conversions: head, heart and wallet! We shouldn’t worry about ‘scaring them off’ because money and giving are essential elements of Christian discipleship. We do new Christians no favours if we don’t talk about the wallet. Generosity is key to new faith (Luke 3:11-14, 19:1-10) and we rob new believers of something if we don’t teach these things (Acts 20:35).
Money expresses and carries our personal values; it reveals and shapes our hearts (Matthew 6:21). Our church ‘membership classes’ should embed generosity as a core value of both personal discipleship and church life. The fact that generosity is such a challenge underlines the importance of our commitment to faith and church membership. New Christians shouldn’t feel pressured, though. Giving is always a heart response and there should be the provision of quality relationships and pastoral support in the church.
If we don’t discuss money at all or talk about what the Bible says about it, our church members will see giving as a response to financial need, and not worship and discipleship. This stores up problems for individuals and for churches.
Rising prices are making it harder to make ends meet. My husband says we should reduce our giving to the church, but I'm not sure …
I expect every household is reviewing expenditure currently. Making and monitoring a budget has never been more important, but it does throw up questions like this one. There are three questions you need to ask.
The first is: 'What are you saying to us Lord'? This means you and your husband can hear God together about your finances and reach agreement. It may mean giving less, it may mean giving more, but it will mean you can give cheerfully and not feel guilty about any change in giving.
The second question should be: ‘Is giving a priority for us?’ There is always the danger that generosity is the first casualty when we tighten our belts and that maintaining our lifestyle is the prime consideration.
And finally: ‘Is our giving proportionate to our income?’ Proportionate giving has integrity because it reconnects income, lifestyle and giving.
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Steve Pierce is the Head of Stewardship Money, the education ministry supporting churches in giving and good stewardship practice. Send your questions to him at Stewardship Money, PO Box 99, Loughton, Essex IG10 3QJ.
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