Having coffee and conversations with lots of pastors raises some common discussion topics: like attendance to budget ratios and giving levels in churches. I have heard several pastors say: "If everyone in the church gave what my wife and I give, we'd have no financial problems." How do pastors raise the level of financial stewardship in the local church?
One way is to practice it personally. A church can give at no higher level than that of its leadership, starting with the pastor. But it goes beyond that. I propose that a church will give at no higher level than that of its staff. If the staff does not believe in and give to the mission of the local church, why should anyone else. (That hearkens back to my comments about staff and membership. If staff members do not belong to the local church...any local church, why should anyone else?). But this logic goes one step further, and more provocatively; A church can give no higher than that of its leadership: elected leaders/council/board/ whatever. If church leaders don't tithe, why should anyone else. And somehow, mysteriously, the church "knows" where its leaders' giving levels are.
While we dare not get into works righteousness, that we are saved by what we give. We have so privatized and individualized our spirituality, that corporate commitments as seen as out-of-date anachronisms. We don't believe in the corporate body of Christ with an address and a building as much as we do believe in a solo spiritual voyage of me and Jesus. If a local church fits, fine, if not, bye.
I've had correspondence with friends who say they are considering leaving their local church because they are at a different place in life than they were before. That's both true and fine. We change, we grow. But does that mean leaving? I'm a lot balder and more wrinkled than when Martha married me. We no longer have kids running around the house. Our lives have changed big time, but our commitment to each other has not.
What are your thoughts about asking all elected church leaders to sing a statement committing themselves to the spiritual discipline of regular prayer and worship, witness and service, and tithing to the local church?