August 30, 2018 8:34 AM

Designated Giving

August 30, 2018 8:34 AM
August 30, 2018 8:34 AM

Designated giving, what is that? I don’t know the origins, but I suspect it was used originally to separate offerings for special mission or ministry events from regular periodic giving; i.e. tithe. So, basically a bookkeeping process. However, some denominations use it for annual one-time gifts that recognize a hero from the denomination, and to raise money towards the related mission work. It’s an awesome thing to be involved in giving with that kind of impact. I’m certain many of us at Faith Christian Community designate money to mission work like the Burma Free Rangers, or to other great ministries like Samaritan’s Purse that aren’t directly related to FCC. I say Amen to this kind of giving. You’re awesome to support work like this.

However, what about the scenario where someone decides to change their current regular periodic giving? A person decides to reduce their giving by an amount, and then designate that amount to a specific current ministry at FCC? Say for example I decide to give $5000 specifically to the worship ministry, but not just the worship ministry, I direct it to just the audio/visual ministry within the worship ministry. And, reduce my annual regular giving or tithe by $5000. What does that mean or say?

It could mean many things I suppose. Perhaps I really love the audio/visual ministry, which is the positive take on this scenario. Perhaps the a/v ministry budget was cut and I want to offset it. What do you think my actions say to the leadership? What does it say to Jorge, the leader of the worship ministry? He puts together the budget for worship after analyzing and praying over the direction the Lord is leading him. He works with Tyler to develop a specific plan for a/v. He spends a great deal of time honing the worship ministry budget and getting it exactly like the Spirit is leading. He then hands it off to Joe. What do my actions say to Joe, who then also prays over it, analyzes the need of multiple ministries in his charge, prays over them, and listens for the Spirit to direct him. Then, after months of bi-weekly meetings with ministry leaders, and meetings with Randy to confirm the budget is reasonable, he brings it to the other elders. He shares the fruit of months of work from many people. The elders pray, review, ask questions, and listen for confirmation from the Lord that the budget is a good one. What do my actions say to the elders, to Joe, and to Jorge?

Even if my motives are pure, they don’t say “good job”, “thanks for all the hard work”. They aren’t affirming actions. In fact, my actions say the opposite. “I don’t trust you Jorge, you’re wrong”, “I don’t trust the Spirit in you Jorge”, “I don’t trust you Joe, you’re wrong”, “I don’t trust the Spirit in you Joe”, “I don’t trust you elders, you’re wrong”, “I don’t trust the Spirit in the elders”. These statements are probably closer to what my actions express in this scenario. Could it be that I simply want it my way, and don’t consider the impact to ministries that now have to find $5000?

Previously at FCC, using this scenario, the a/v ministry would keep their budgeted money and get my $5000 in addition. That’s not the case anymore. We now reduce the ministry budget by the designated amount. Why? Because of the impact on needs throughout the entire church. Also, what if we changed our worship in a way that meant we no longer needed the a/v ministry? Well, any money designated for that ministry would simply sit in the bank and take up space on a spreadsheet. We couldn’t spend it on anything else. We couldn’t spend it where it’s needed. It’s wasted, unless someone takes the time to find the people that designated it, and asked permission to use it differently. FCC doesn’t have the time, and especially the resources to run this down, and shouldn’t have to try.

For me, I think of my giving as falling into two categories, tithes and offerings. I don’t designate any part of my tithe, and I only designate offerings if it’s helpful for accounting purposes. Maybe that’s because I get to see the process at a granular level. What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? Do you designate when you give? If so, to what ministries and why? Let me know.

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