Jump Start # 2895
1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of the week let each one of your put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.”
Last week in one of our Jump Starts I wrote about inheritances. I briefly mentioned that I knew of about five congregations recently that received money from the estates of people who passed away. That prompted one of our readers to ask me if that is good or bad. I really appreciate hearing from you and when you ask questions, it often leads to another Jump Start, as this has.
Our passage today is about giving. Built within the DNA of a Christian is giving. God has given to us. God has been good to us. God has been generous, more than we deserve. And, for the kingdom to thrive, it takes money. It takes money to publish class material. It takes money to livestream services. It takes money to produce and circulate these Jump Starts. It takes money to pay the preacher. It takes money to provide nice, comfortable places to worship. It takes money to purchase or make the Lord’s Supper. Among us are those who are hurting financially and they need brethren to help. It took money back then and it takes money today. The Lord understood that. Built in the structure of a congregation is the fact that the members would support it.
Through the years, this topic has hit a lot of speed bumps. A man once told me that if a husband and wife both worked, that they had to put in separate checks for their contribution, even though it was coming from the same checking account. I didn’t buy into that idea. We are in the age of electronic banking and many are sending their contributions in that way. That has made some scratch their heads, but remember back in the first century, it was a cash only society. Checks, as we know and use them, did not exist. It was just another way of fulfilling this obligation to give. Long ago, country preachers were given chickens and ham as a form of payment. One church sent me a new Bible for holding a Gospel Meeting for them.
Now, what about leaving money to a church after you have passed away. In other words, include a congregation within your will? I have been involved with that many times in recent months. Is it good? Is it bad?
Here are my thoughts—and, they are just that, my thoughts. Biblically, there is nothing said about this. And, just as I have my thoughts about this, you will have yours. Our opinions are like our noses—everyone has one and they think theirs is the best. I don’t know if there is a right or wrong on this subject.
First, my first reaction is that I’d rather give as much as I can while I am alive. This allows a person to see the needs of a congregation and to be part of helping it. Sadly, much, much too sadly, there are congregations that are sitting upon hundreds of thousands of dollars. The church is not in the banking business. The money needs to be used. There are too many needs and too many good things that the money can be put to that would spread the gospel world-wide. To be honest, some congregations do not need the money. Some, lacking in positive leadership, would simply bank the money and it would just sit there.
I’ve known tiny country congregations that received a distribution from an estate that was larger than the entire year’s contribution for that group. What would they do with that money?
Second, I know of a situation in which an older couple died and left a congregation some money. They wanted the church to buy new songbooks. The leadership did not want new songbooks. So, the inherited money was put into the general fund and used for other things. So, this wonderful blessing from this couple was never realized. That bothers me. Maybe we shouldn’t “earmark” money and designate how we think it ought to be used, but I expect had they known what happened to it, they likely would not have included it in their will.
Third, for some congregations, receiving an inheritance is just what they need to do some needed improvements and outreach in evangelism. The money received could be the green light that they have been waiting for. That gift is just what they needed.
Fourth, through the years congregations can change. Some die. Some flip over into progressive apostasy. The church you know today, may not be that way in a few decades. Your inheritance can be a blessing or a curse, based upon the direction that congregation is going.
So, I guess you can tell by my tone that I am not a fan of leaving a church money after I die. Is it wrong? No. Can it be a good thing? Yes. It can be wonderful. Would I talk people out of doing this? Never. If the options were leaving some to a congregation or some foundation where a large percentage will go to administration costs and paying salaries, then I’d be for giving it to a congregation. I am not a fan of someone leaving the church stocks and mutual funds. The church isn’t in the stock market. Leave a dollar amount or a percentage, but don’t leave real estate, stock certificates, rare paintings, jewelry.
But through all of this, I like the idea that people are thinking about the kingdom after they leave this place. They are kind and thoughtful and want to help a congregation continue on. That is such a refreshing and delightful spirit.
When you give each week, you are saying that you believe in what is being done. You also are saying that you want it to continue on. And, you are saying that you want the kingdom to thrive. We have been blessed by God.
Something to think about…