First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
I was visiting a congregation some time back, and they announced that the new offering envelopes were available; and they encouraged people to take them home, even if they did not intend to use them, and look at them every now and then. That seemed odd to me at the time, but today, after a 5 hour stewardship workshop in mid-October, it now sounds like a good idea.
Take a moment and think about your own offering envelopes; what goes through your mind when you place your offering, whether cash or check, inside?
Do you think the Church has enough money? Or do you wonder why you are giving to the Church, when they will just waste it? Are you giving just enough so the Church will make budget, but not too much so that there will not be more money left then expected at the end of the year? Does your offering reflect the blessings that God has given you?
Money is certainly a touchy topic, no one likes to talk about it at home, and certainly not in the Church either. Often, much like our taxes, we are of the mindset that the best person to take care of your money is you, and that you will dispense it out to others only when they come to you in the proper act of contrition and self-humiliation.
Money and the Church is a particularly touchy topic because it forces us to intersect our faith with our bank accounts. And so to avoid the matter, we often treat the Church budget like a potluck, we never are quite sure how, but there always seems to be enough at the end.
Let’s go back to some of those questions I mentioned earlier: Do you think the Church has enough money? Allow me to put your hearts and minds at ease, and answer yes. The bills are being paid, salaries are being met, and there will be heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. But there is a difference between having enough money to pay the bills and having enough money to expand our Gospel outreach. If a million dollars showed up tomorrow, we would use it, (and not to pay the water bill).
Does the Church waste money? Sadly, the Church is governed by humans, of which I am one; and the answer is yes, just as the case is in your own home, not every penny has been put to the best use. For this the Church repents, receives the absolution, and strives to do better. The Church, whether it be the Synod offices in St. Louis, our local District office in Topeka, or this very congregation, admits its wrongs, and begs your forgiveness. The Church does not want to waste the gifts entrusted to it, and strives to make sure those gifts are well taken care of.
Let’s go back to your envelopes; what do you see? Does what you put in the plate reflect what God has entrusted to you? Like any line item in the budget, make sure you evaluate your offering on a regular basis. If things are going well, does your offering reflect it? If things are going poorly, does your offering reflect it?
Look at your offering envelopes, if someone else were to see them, what would they say about your faith? Would they say that you support the Church and the work that is being done to advance the Gospel both here and in distant lands? Or would they say that you are withholding the gifts that God has entrusted to you and keeping them for yourself?
If you find your charity, whether it be time, talent, or treasure to be lacking, remember this: Christ Jesus has indeed died for that sin as well. The words of absolution apply to you and to me for all sins committed here on earth, even this one. We repent, receive the absolution and take comfort in the cross of Christ Jesus, from which our salvation flows.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt