When I read and study my Bible related to giving I find instruction related to tithes and free-will offerings. A tithe is the giving of a “tenth” of what God entrusts to you. I’ve written and preached about tithing on multiple occasions. I believe that Christian giving is first and foremost a voluntary thing but every year I challenge and encourage every member of the church to make a commitment to tithe or give over and above the tithe. I do this, not because I believe that we as New Testament Christians are obligated to tithe but because I believe that the tithe represents an eternal principle, that the tithe demonstrates that God has first place in your life, that the tithe is an antidote to greed, that the tithe keeps your giving proportional, that the tithe produces good works and that the tithe proves and strengthens our faith. Resource: “30 Days to a More Generous Life” Part 3
In addition to the giving of the tithe we read often in the Scriptures about “free-will” offerings. A free-will offering is a gift given at the impulse of the giver (Exodus 35:21-29; 36:3-7; Leviticus 7:16). The distinctive mark of the free will offering was the “stirred hearts” and “willing spirits” of the givers. The tabernacle, for example, was constructed using materials given as free will offerings (Exodus 35:29). In this example, the people’s desire to give was so great that Moses was compelled to ask that no more gifts be given (Exodus 36:3-7).
My prayer is that our church family will recognize the needs created by our growing ministry and be stirred to give generously in a free-will offering on the weekend of April 20/21. This offering will be in addition to or over and above our regular giving (tithes). I believe this is a biblical approach and one that I am fully committed to. In fact, as Sandy and I looked at 2013 we recognized several financial needs and made a commitment to make this the year of “extreme savings” for us. What does that mean? It means that we are approaching our budget from a different perspective. We have had a budget (spending plan) in place for sometime. It includes a commitment to give over and above a tithe to the church, covering all of our living expenses, saving money for the future, etc. But our budget has always been more of a guideline than anything else. During our “year of extreme savings” we are operating with more of a “zero-sum budget” which means every dollar is spoken for. By doing this we will be able to save even more money to meet the financial needs of the year including our special one-time “God at Work” offering. This also means that we will say “no” to many of our normal spending urges. It may sound like a year of “extreme living” but it’s not, it’s just a year of “extreme savings.”
Here’s my question for you: “What can you do between now and April 20/21, to prepare for this special one-time free will offering? There’s no denying that God has created the need for more parking (our attendance is larger than it’s ever been before…this past years Christmas service brought over 6600 people to our campus and we’ve had well over 3,000 in attendance in the first two weeks of this New Year), our growing service to the community in the area of food and clothing has created the need for a larger distribution center, our desire to offer a focused discipleship ministry has created the need for more classroom space and a sprawling campus has created the need for a new maintenance building. Any one of these things on its own is a worthy cause but together they should stir our hearts and create a willing spirit of generosity. We need your help and support to underwrite the cost of meeting these needs. Pray about what you can do, make it a matter of discussion among your entire family. What can you give up, what can you sacrifice, what can you change in your daily, weekly and monthly spending habits to free up money for this offering. It’s a one-time opportunity for faith and faithfulness that will result in eternal rewards.