Summary: This message focuses on two of the primary usage of funds received by the Church.
Godly Financial Management Part 2
Paying God Part 6
My message last week focused on the attitude we should have as it relates to how we give to God. As I shared last week we are to be cheerful givers and in order to reach this status as a giver we must align our hearts to God. To illustrate this last week I used the example of two men purchasing birthday gifts for their wives. The first man was very meticulous in how he chose the gift. He was excited with his gift because he knew his wife’s heart and that the gift would please her. The second man forgot his wife’s birthday and the gift he purchased for her was something recommended to him versus him picking out something he knew his wife would appreciate. The second man’s gift was an afterthought. Our giving to God should never be an afterthought – it should always be at the forefront of our minds as we become God-focused.
This morning we will examine what purposes the offerings taken by the Church should be used. I know it might appear intuitive as to what the Church offerings are supposed to be used for, but unlike in the pass, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is getting more involved in how ministries manage the monies that are donated to them. There are legalities that must be complied with when making any type of payment to a staff member or to an individual – even if that payment is in the form of a love offering. If these rules/regulations are violated the IRS can remove the not-for-profit status of a Church which would mean that anyone giving a donation to that Church could not record it as a charitable donation on their taxes. It is also becoming more common for the IRS to intervene and actually close the doors of Churches when their violations are to the extreme. Therefore we must be careful as to the tracking and use of any monies that are donated to our Church.
There are two areas that I will focus on as they will encompass pretty much how the monies are to be used. We know that part of the money should go to the maintenance of a physical building that is needed to carry out the functional ministries of the Church. Included in this would be all of the day to day operational needs of the building; maintenance/custodial staff; all utilities; etc. I will not go into this area with the exception to say that our building should not hinder us from doing what God has called us to do. Upkeep on a building should not require so much of our funds that we cannot do ministry work; taking care of the needy; outreach, etc. The building should not be a monument that represents my success; but a functional place to carry out the ministry of Christ. We should have the funds necessary to take care of the building without any hindrance on the ministry functions of the Church. That being said this morning I want to focus on how we should be meeting the needs of other saints; the poor; and paying those who serve in ministry. Each of these areas carries some specific guidelines from an IRS perspective but more so how the money is utilized directly impacts the heart of those who give. Let’s begin with the first approved use of the offerings: meeting the needs of others.
I. Meeting The Needs Of Others
I shared with you previously the situation that was recorded in Luke the 18th chapter. There was a rich ruler who came to Jesus and asked what he must do to be saved. When Jesus told him to go and sell everything he own and give it to the poor and then to follow Him, the ruler was not able to do it. Jesus did not tell him to give it to the Church – did you notice that? He told the man to give it to the poor. So many times we think that the only way to do God’s work is to give the money to the Church but thinking this way will limit your gifts to God. I am not telling to you stop giving to the Church and just give to the poor, but I want to make you aware that our giving exists on more levels than just what we give to Church. Each of us has a personal accountability to God for what we have done and will do as it relates to the poor. Remember, there are people that you will come into contact with that you can help that may never visit this Church or come into contact with anyone else at this Church. The fact that they do not visit here should not influence your helping them as God leads you. Jesus has a heart for the poor so the first area where your offerings should be used to help those in need. This is the first test of you determining if the money you are giving to a ministry is being used according to God’s will. Consider 1 John 3:17-18.