Our 25th anniversary weekend was a wonderful experience. We not only praised God for what he has done in our past, but we looked at our plans for Redeemer’s future. We want to become a family of highly collaborative churches that will multiply in the city in a way that we have never done before.
This means the establishment of three strong, large, rooted congregations in the three main locations around Manhattan with the leaders, resources, and commitment for multiplying worshipping communities. This also entails me stepping out of my role as Senior Pastor of the whole and anchoring new leader-multiplying, recruiting, and training centers that will supply all the congregations — as well as other churches in the city — with new staff, pastors, and church planters well-versed in the values and core competencies of Redeemer.
Many people expressed excitement at this prospect. But I’m convinced that we will not be able to step into that future unless we make some significant changes to the culture of our giving at Redeemer. I have two specific changes in mind.
First, we should all plan our annual giving to the church. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
Paul tells the Corinthians to think out the proportion of their income they are giving away (“a sum … in keeping with your income”) and then to lay some aside every week. Studies — and common sense — reveal that people who plan their giving to the church and give it every month or at other regular intervals end up being far more generous than those who give only when in church, or give episodically, impulsively, or even just at the end of the year. We will only become more and more generous as time goes on if we set “stretch” goals to achieve a couple of years from now, and then make deliberate plans to get there through planned monthly or quarterly giving.
Second, all people who attend Redeemer regularly should give to it, and not in a token way.
In smaller congregations, nearly all regular attenders give financially to support their church. The larger the church, however, the smaller that percentage becomes. The reasons are understandable, of course. A large church looks well furnished, and it is tempting to think, “They don’t need my giving; I’ll give to these other causes I am committed to.” The problem is, however, that larger churches have larger costs and they need everyone’s giving no less than smaller bodies. Over one-third of all regular attenders at Redeemer give nothing to the operating budget and another one-third give only very small amounts.
I want to be clear — I have never taught that a Christian’s entire tithe must go to the local church — I don’t see a biblical warrant for that. And I’m not talking here about visitors, inquirers, or seekers who are coming to Redeemer to explore the faith. However, the Bible and common sense indicate that if you attend Redeemer regularly and are spiritually nourished here, you should financially support it.
In conclusion — if everyone who came to Redeemer supported it financially and planned their giving, the difference would be significant, maybe even massive. We will not be able to reach out and embrace the future vision of a multiplying family unless we make these changes to our communal habits of giving. There is no better time to begin these changes than right now, since Redeemer must receive so much of its annual income in the final quarter of the year.
I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about Redeemer’s future. This is one of the main ways for us to realize it and become a Christian community that God continues to use in the city.