What Would It Take?
The current financial condition in the church is not news to anyone and it can be better explained by reading the statements issued by Acting Presiding Bishop Stassi Cramm (found on the www.cofchrist.org website) than by anything I might write.
However, I wanted to expand on my comments at our last round of Pastor, Counselor, Evangelist and Congregation Financial Officers meetings and am borrowing the title above from one of Stassi’s letters.
Simply put, we need to be sure we are teaching our tithing practices in our congregations, both to new and long time members. Many of our new members are coming from previous faith communities that did not have the same practices as Community of Christ. I’ve spoken to several people who are not aware that their offerings are not shared with the world church. Their previous denomination received all offerings and then distributed some to their headquarters based on an assessment or apportionment process and the assumption is that Community of Christ does the same.
This misunderstanding is not limited to new members. I’ve spoken with lifelong members who are unaware that they need to designate part of their tithe for World Church, either by specifying a Mission Initiative or Use Where Needed Most, in order for it to go to World Church. That is, they have been making the assumption part of their tithing automatically went to support World Church ministries.
Pastors and CFO’s, it would be helpful if you would work together to review what the best approach would be to educate your membership on our tithing practices. It need not be elaborate; it might only be a short series of messages delivered as part of the Disciples Generous Response portion of the service.
Our budget shortfall could be met if everyone now paying tithing to World Church would increase their giving by 50%. For some, this would be impossible. For some, it would be very easy.
However, tithing from new sources would make a huge difference. New sources includes those who have previously not been paying tithing; those who are currently paying increasing their ongoing amount; congregations who have unused resources deciding to share some of these resources through budget line items or one time offerings and current givers finding new ways to share. For example, many will be getting tax refunds. Giving a portion of this refund would a new source of tithing.
Increased giving and new pledges for continued giving are being received daily. While we may not receive enough such pledges by the March deadline to avoid employee reductions, we are going in the right direction.