Every year, my wife and I give a few gifts at the end of the year to nonprofits, mission centers and ministry groups with whom we have a close connection. And although we give regularly to our church throughout the year, we usually give an end-of-the-year gift to our church.
This year we are giving a little extra to our church, and here are 10 reasons why:
- We believe the local church is where the action is. While all the ministries to which we contribute are doing good work, the local church is the hub of ministering to the community. The local church has local boots on the ground, and through the years we have observed the local church going to extraordinary lengths to be the presence of Christ during tough times.
- Giving has been down for most churches. Whether it is due to furloughs, layoffs or temporary closures, offerings are down between 10% and 40% at church around the country. For those of us who have the capacity to give a little extra, our extra giving may provide a huge boost to the ministry of the church. As one of my friends said recently, “If you have been saving for a rainy day, this is it.”
- Expenses are up. Some may wonder why expenses are up at time when many churches are mostly online. The building still must be cleaned. And this year, most churches have gone the extra mile to perform a “deep clean,” to have their building fogged, or to regularly apply disinfectant. Churches have purchased masks, hand sanitizers and new signage to help communicate guidelines and to keep us safe. And many congregations have purchased cameras, microphones, and other equipment to provide a livestreaming option.
- The church has been busy helping others. Our church has adopted neighboring businesses for whom we are providing care packages, notes of encouragement and snack bags for the staff. Our church has given extra to our local mission center to assist the homeless, the unemployed and others in transition. Our church has continued to provide support for missionaries around the world during a time when their support is being minimized.
- A percentage of every gift to our church reaches beyond our church. Most church budgets operate with a formula wherein a percentage of every gift goes toward missions beyond the local church. So each time we give to the church, we are actually giving through the church and beyond.
- Our gift is given in honor of faithful givers who cannot give at this time. I am aware of many faithful givers who for years have invested in the mission and ministries of the local church through their consistent giving, and now they find themselves unemployed. Most of these persons are tithers, but 10% of zero is still zero. So we are giving a little extra to help cover their portion of giving until a time in the near future when they can resume their faithful giving.
- There is much work to be done in the year ahead. We are not going to reach a point where someone in leadership declares, “The pandemic is over,” and then we return to the way life and church were in February 2020. Those days are gone. Churches, like all groups, will need to recalibrate for the next season of life and ministry. We want our gift to help the church retool and reequip for the next chapter.
- This is a great week to convey a gift of appreciated investments. Of course, this is not the primary reason we give. But since the stock market is up significantly during these closing days of 2020, this is a great opportunity to give a gift of appreciated stock to your local church.
- Our giving is a testimony of hope. Many wonder when the pandemic will end. Others are concerned about whether their church will survive. We do not give so that our church will simply survive. We give in hopes of helping our church thrive. But to thrive, a church must survive the global pandemic. Our giving is a declaration that we believe the work of the church will be needed more than ever in the days ahead.
- Our end-of-year gift is an act of thanksgiving. We are blessed to have a steady income. We are blessed to have a comfortable home. We are blessed to be in generally good health. We are blessed to serve in a supportive and encouraging congregation. We are blessed to have a creative and innovative staff team that has implemented safety protocols and adapted ministry methods for an unprecedented year of ministry. And we believe we are blessed to be a blessing to others. We are giving a little extra this year as an expression of gratitude for the blessings that have sustained us through a tough season.
The Bible teaches us to give of the first fruits of our income (Proverbs 3:9), to give generously (2 Corinthians 9:6), and to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). For us, giving is a joyful act of hospitality.
We recognize that not everyone is able to give a little extra. Some of us are barely hanging on, and we should not feel guilty because we cannot give an additional gift. The foundation of Christian giving is that we give in proportion to our income. However, many of us have been tremendously blessed, and this year it is our privilege to give an extra gift.
As you think about your end-of-year giving, we invite you to join us in giving a little extra to the church this year. A little extra in 2020 can make a huge impact in ministry for 2021.
Barry Howard serves as pastor of the Church at Wieuca in Atlanta. He also serves as a columnist and leadership coach for the Center for Healthy Churches.