Welfare Leeches

Today I’d like to briefly address the question, “Why should I give to my church?” There are several ways to go about addressing this question, today I will address one. The quick answer is: because it is my church.

The question is akin to asking, “Why should I pay my rent?” or “Why should I pay my dinner tab?” Because it’s yours. You church is your mission. The goals of the church in terms of ministries, facilities, staffing and missions will not be underwritten by the federal government; it is the responsibility of the members of the church to fund the mission.

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit with a brother who, through the course of conversation, mentioned to me that he gives to missionaries outside of his church. This is a delightful and honorable thing to do, but I did notice that in his list of expenses he did not mention his church. So I asked him, for sake of clarity, “Do you give to your church as well, or just outside missionaries?” He clarified that I had heard him correctly and the he only gives to outside missionaries. At which point I asked him “Who pays for the pastoral care and leadership that you receive?” The question went unanswered explicitly, because it was answered implicitly. If I am not giving to my church for the pastoral care and leadership that I receive, someone else is subsidizing me spiritually.

Now, to be clear, there are no giving amounts stipulated in the New Testament, and there are certainly people who cannot afford to give much, if anything, and should be subsidized spiritually. I am merely making the case that if you have the means to give, you should give to your church first, because it’s your church.

To not do so is to abdicate your responsibility and lean on the generosity of others. It is at best ignorant of how the church is funded and functions, and at worst immature and selfish to depend on others to finance the benefits you receive. Ironically, many evangelical Christians get bent out of shape about people expecting to be subsidized in the political and economic arena, but don’t realize it is what they are doing at church. They are effectively welfare leeches.

The good news is that Jesus saves welfare leeches. He has enough grace for this type of abdication. The good news is also that this grace that forgives also transforms. Jesus wants to bring us to a place where we gladly imitate him in his responsibility. He paid for his church. No one subsidized it for him. As we grow in Christlikeness we delight in bearing responsibility for that which is ours.

The reality is that there will always be welfare leeches in the church. There will be those that give and those that receive. There will be those that bear responsibility and those shirk it. Jesus has revealed to us where true joy lies. It is at the cross, where we realize that to bear burden for the church is no burden at all.