Answering the Call
This week, we have something special in store for you: five articles provided by the General Church Finance Committee on the subject of money and how it intersects with faith. Many of you made New Year's resolutions that have to do with your personal finances or charitable giving, so we hope that this weeklong series of articles encourages and empowers you toward those goals.
Today's article is from Brother Jerry Morle.
No one likes talking about finances, especially when they are tight. And because money can be so corrupting and divisive, talking about it in church seems that much more distasteful. So, in October 2015, when the Presidency asked presiding elders to explain some pressing financial matters with their members, I bristled.
Their reasoning was clear enough: The Church was experiencing a shortfall in donations, and budgets were going to get cut. The request was simply to inform the membership of some basic facts and ask for a small, $10 per month, per member increase.
The Fort Worth Branch maintains some non-traditional practices when it comes to financial matters. We don’t pass a collection plate ever — not in Sunday School, not in MBA. We have one, but it sits at the back of the building, and it’s rarely ever mentioned. From time to time, someone drops some money in it. Furthermore, we never remind the congregation to make a monthly donation; we never preach about money or finances; we rarely discuss giving in any formal setting.
Yet our members have figured it out. There is a constant need to replenish the donation envelopes, which are clearly displayed next to the collection plate, because some actually "give" weekly as they get paid. In fact, we have historically collected enough to pay our bills and have a little left over. We’re one of six branches that actually performs 45-10-45 successfully.
So I stepped out in faith last February and took five minutes at the end of a Sunday meeting to make the pitch. It wasn’t moving or particularly compelling, just a straightforward request for help, not only for our branch but also for the General Church to fund missionary work and operations.
Six months later, we were considering purchasing a new building, and I was a little nervous about our finances. The increased costs for the new building seemed beyond our reach. When I raised my concerns with the head trustee, he responded with a broad smile. Since I had made that simple request, our donations had shot up 42 percent! New people started giving. Regular donors started giving more. Our average donation went up almost exactly $10 a month. As a result, our conservative three-year projections should allow us to comfortably afford our new mortgage and higher utilities and still come out ahead a little each month while still supporting the 45-10-45 program.
The vast majority of presiding elders, myself included, admitted to not discussing Church financial matters, especially those of the General Church, in their branches during the year. However, it’s important the membership is aware of the main business matters so they can at least pray and maybe get involved. Regardless of personal opinions, our responsibility is to share the information so God’s Spirit can work in their hearts. Praise God, we expect to dedicate a new building early next year in part because our members responded to His gentle call.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.