Intown leaders have been working behind the scenes on our budget for 2014 and it prompted me to think through our principles for generosity. This isn't an official pronouncement of new church bylaws or anything like that, just some pastoral reflections on the shape of giving and generosity at our church (or at least what I hope for them to be.)
I think there are also lot of takeaways for individuals and families too so give them a read and let me know what you think!
1) Gratitude for the grace of God is what prompts generosity.
2) We pray for Giving that is: Joyful rather than begrudging, Thoughtful rather than Random, and Sacrificial rather than Negligible.
3) The Offertory is the place in the liturgy where we devote in principle and practice the best of our Time, Talent, and Treasure as Tribute to the God.
4) Intown is a community of people coming from a variety of backgrounds and so we want to help people pastorally and patiently to grow in giving without feeling pressured.
5) We want to develop the idea of the local Church as an agent of personal and social change. Worship through word, sacrament, fellowship, etc. empowers persons toward compassion - toward those who are burdened and hurting.
6) Thus, when we support the "work and worship" of the church we are supporting the transformation of the lives of people who have a network of relationships in which they can be the hands, feet, and words of Christ.
7) All ministries and churches have administrative and operational costs whether they are located in the Upper West Side or Skid Row. We should never try to deflect attention from this reality while at the same time enabling members to see the direct relationship between administration and transformation, operations and service.
8) Local churches have demonstrated long-term impact by building social, relational, emotional, and spiritual capital that translates into long term support of various organizations and ministries and we want to uphold that tradition.
9) We will have to continuously deconstruct our "cultural narrative of consumption" through teaching, service, and discipleship. We long to see “consumers” to be reborn as “contributors.”
10) We want to help people place the "Offertory" in it's proper place in the liturgy, understanding that the weekly offering is as much an act of worship as singing a song or listening to a sermon.
11) The offering is unrepentantly a redistribution of wealth in God’s economy. Americans will inevitably bristle this characterization and yet it may be just this sort of rhetorical flourish that will enable us to see how deeply embodied and communitarian the Christian life is meant to be.
12) People need to be captivated by the vision and mission; people who know how to answer, “Why Intown Church?” will give more graciously and generously!
13) The tithe is not an inviolable law in the New Testament, but should be seen as a helpful guideline because of its longstanding use within the people of God. Perhaps it should be considered the “training wheels” of giving.
13) Giving is the ultimate act of cruciformity - He who was rich, for our sake became poor. So, developing a strategy for giving is one of the primary acts of discipleship, one of most critical pathways of sanctification.