Janis spends a lot of time offering up her talents and treasures at her church in Washington, DC where she serves as Outreach Co-chair.
Offerings are Made in Collection Plates
Stewardship Fears: What Scares Us About Giving?
Why does the word "stewardship" frighten church members so much, causing them to fidget in their seats? Usually, when the minister brings up this topic, it's inevitably about money. It immediately conjures up fears about giving more of ourselves, making a financial commitment, making sacrifices and staying on course.
In some cases, that may include making a financial pledge when the economy is unsteady, job status is no longer secure, and savings for the future are no longer guaranteed. With so much uncertainty, some church members, who are just trying to get spiritual nourishment, are anxious about whether they can live up to biblical expectations.
The following "what ifs" are realistic worries the average church member grapples with when faced with the decision to make a financial commitment to the church.
Common Fears About Financial Commitments
- "What if I make a pledge to tithe and can't maintain it?"
- "What if I can't keep up with my pledge and my bills?"
- "What if I don't agree with how the money is used in the church?"
- "What if I put off buying a new car for another year when the one I have is falling apart?"
- "What if I can't go out to dinner as often as I like?"
- "What if my commitment to tithe interrupts plans to finally purchase a new home?"
- "What if I lose my job and have no salary?"
- "What if I can't adjust to my retirement and change of lifestyle after tithing?"
- "What if there's a family medical emergency that cause medical bills to skyrocket?"
Financial Planning Helps Us With Our Stewardship
Church Members Struggle to Attain and Hold Onto Wealth
In addition to the fears of financial commitment church members have, there may be inner conflict and confusion about what God wants for us versus what we've been taught about working hard, saving, achieving, and attaining wealth.
We have been conditioned to strive for more, to be the best, aspire to a certain level of success, and to have something to show for it. Our success is defined by our savings account, perhaps a nest egg, or a nice home.
Realistically (although it's hard to admit), making a financial commitment to the church stands in direct conflict with our need to reach for, attain, and hold onto that success. For middle class families in particular and those who are struggling, there isn't much left over for recreation and indulgence, much less monthly maintenance.
It's extremely difficult for some to alter this type of thinking to imagine how tithing even fits into the financial equation. The question then becomes, "Do I pay my rent and car note to maintain my good credit or do I increase my financial pledge to the church?"
Stewardship: Balancing Savings and Pledges
Church Members Still Have to Budget Expenses
Making Financial Adjustments to Decrease Our Fears
The questions we ask ourselves about how to handle financial commitments can drive us crazy. So at some point we have to make the decision to "let go and let God."
We cannot allow our fears, although they are real, to prevent us from taking the necessary steps toward becoming good stewards of our time, talent, and treasure.
Obviously, adjustments have to be made so that we don't neglect our financial obligations and responsibilities. But we can all take a realistic look at the bigger picture to see what we can do to strike a better balance between our living and our giving. That means we may have to take a closer look at our spending habits, discern between wants and needs, and decide where to make adjustments by prioritizing what's most important.
An Offering is Made as a Pledge
Parishioners of Saint George's Church, DC
Letting Go and Letting God
The specific answer to the question about what to do is very personal and individual, as it is discerned between each church member and his or her God.
The broader answer falls somewhere in the ballpark of making God and the church a priority first, followed by being smart, realistic, and rational about making decisions that affect each church member's ability to live within a chosen lifestyle.
Establishing better money management, time management, and use of special gifts and talents will help church members to have better control over their resources.
- Pledging and tithing is a representation of your relationship with and commitment to God and the church as it is used to run the ministries and maintain the building out of which his work is done through you.
A pledge to be good stewards in what we do, what we say, how we walk, and how we give should not scare us away from the church. We can't let our fears, conflicts, and uncertainties hinder us from relying upon our faith by, "letting go and letting God" in every decision we make in our personal lives and as members of a church community.
Philippians 4:6-7, 12-13 (Esv)
"Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.
I know what it is to be in need, I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
© 2012 Janis Leslie Evans
Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on January 23, 2015:
Um, I think that's the sequence in some church services but not required. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read, peachpurple.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on January 23, 2015:
is this the part when the church goers had to donate money before the communion?
Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on May 30, 2013:
Thank you for your comment, SwordofManticorE.
SwordofManticorE from Burlington on May 30, 2013:
The simple truth about tithing is just stop. It is unbiblical. Then your finiances will increase. Mine did.
Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on October 25, 2012:
You bring up excellent points, Renee. I think there are two ends of the continuum: on one end, the mega churches where money appears to be a huge focus, and on the other end, the struggling churches where, unfortunately, money IS a huge focus. I think the middle ground is the church with enough members whose consistent financial support take care of the physical building and run the ministries that are most needed to do God's work. It's a difficult balance to strike when you factor in life's ups and downs, change, transition, comings and goings, etc. Thank you for stopping by and for the comment.
Renee' D. Campbell from Gaithersburg, Maryland on October 24, 2012:
I was just talking about this especially about the news of losing your leadership. I agree stewardship automatically carries the question of finances. I think a lot of people get caught up in the thinking of God will not be pleased because I don't pledge the same amount as "The Joneses." I think we lose sight of our faith, our commitment, and our relationship with God that we forget that our walk as faithful stewards is not about comparing our time, talent and treasure, but about using what we have and coming together to build our faith together. Do you think money has taken over the church as a whole?
Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on October 21, 2012:
So true. Thank you, for stopping by and commenting, Nyamache. I appreciate it.
Joshua Nyamache from Kenya on October 21, 2012:
There is that fear that people experience especially tithing the 10%. They think it will affect their savings forgetting that it is God who enables them to be alive. We should not be afraid to do God’s work.
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 18, 2012:
Good Hub, thank you.Our problem was membership, We had so few members we were facing closure. It took 7 years and relooking toward the future and some highly motivated members to face a facility that is too small.
Janis Leslie Evans (author) from Washington, DC on October 18, 2012:
Thank you, Faith Reaper, for stopping by and liking this hub. You are so right about whose in control. I'm grateful for your vote up and comments. Bless you, too :-)
Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 18, 2012:
Very insightful hub dear one! All very real points stated here. Yes, it is always best to let go and let God be in control, as He is anyway, as He knows your heart and would not want you to be troubled and not come to worship Him and praise Him. Voted up, awesome, interesting and useful
God bless. In His Love, Faith Reaper