By Glen Guyton, Chief Operating Officer for Mennonite Church USA
I recently read that a congregation in Presbyterian Church USA has to pay over $1.2 million to leave the denomination. A Presbyterian pastor explained to me that other large congregations who were leaving Presbyterian Church USA, because of the denomination’s LGBTQ vote, would also have to pay large sums. All I could think is, “Good Lord! That’s a lot of money.” Religious groups are spending millions of dollars fighting against gay marriage. As one very interested in stewardship, my question is, “Is it worth it?”
So, what type of ministry could be done with $1.2 million dollars?
- Fund 7 missionaries for 5 years.
- Provide 240,000 meals for the homeless
- Send 2,000 youth to convention with all expenses paid
- Fund 12,000 ice bucket challenges
- Run Mennonite Church USA for a year
- Provide 300 years of healthcare for the average individual
Now people reading this article may think I am trying to take a stand on the whole LGBTQ issue. I am not. I do have an opinion, but I think the bigger issue is the mission of the church and how we honor God with our wealth. What is the church not doing when it is heavily engaged in the questions of sexuality? Not only is there a question of finances, but of time and energy as well.
There is a cost for everything we choose to do in ministry. We have to be good stewards of the financial and people resources that God has given us. We have to know what our mission and purpose is so that we don’t get sidetracked by good causes that are causes that God has not called us to engage. Some even base their giving on which side of a cause they are on.
Money has always been an issue for the church. There is an old saying, “Salvation is free; everything else costs.” The church survives on the generosity of its members. But giving to the church should not be driven by politics or one’s stance on divisive issues. The church of Macedonia understood this as illustrated by 2 Corinthians 8.
“Finally, the Macedonian generosity was possible because they gave themselves first to the Lord and only then to Paul (v. 5). Their preeminent concern was how best to serve Christ. It is here that they exceeded Paul’s expectations. They gave out of their poverty because of the sincerity of their commitment to Christ as Lord (to kyriw). So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not allow their economic situation to keep them from being involved in the Lord’s work (Waldrop 1984:38). This is why Paul describes the collection as a service (v. 4). It is not just a financial obligation. It is a ministry opportunity to the saints (v. 4)–those set apart to be God’s possession.” (Biblegateway)
I would never advocate giving to a church as a matter of law or suggest that you give to a ministry that is misusing resources. I would challenge us to consider our giving as acts of worship or more importantly giving of ourselves. Each dollar you are paid represents the time and energy you put into earning it. Consider how you will give a portion of those wages back in service to God, like feeding 240,000 people. If you think recipients should be honoring your gift in a different manner, let them know.
Want more information on how to maximize your resources? Contact Everence, our stewardship agency.