If you attended our August Family Gathering, you may remember that, as a part of our quarterly finance report to the church family, Brian reported that 2nd quarter giving was down from a year ago. The overall report was really good.
Bills are being paid, staff and programming are well supported, overall expenses are under income, commitments to global outreach partners are being kept on time, renovation projects such as sound system and bathrooms are under way, and we have even been able to respond spontaneously to unplanned opportunities such as helping key gospel partners buy cars. I listened in on a conversation over the weekend that resulted in the Benevolence Team authorizing a church check to be cut this week to help a church family pay rent and buy groceries. Those kinds of stories make me so thankful to be a participating investor in magnifying God’s name here at Kossuth Street. Thanks so much for your generous and faithful giving!
However, the healthy financial report revealed clearly that at least for one quarter, giving was down. Seeing the weekly offering totals since the last quarterly report, I can say that I will not be surprised if we hear the same summary of giving at our next reporting. It appears giving is down at KSBC. I am not much of a financial analyst but I can think of 3 reasons why giving would be less this year compared to last year.
First, there may be economic reasons—anything to do with numbers adding or not adding up. Donors have less money to give. The donor base may be shrinking. Giving may be down for purely economic reasons, which may be reflective of the broader economic stress in our country.
A second reason may be what is referred to as consumer confidence. Just like with any other investment, if you lose confidence that the organization or leadership is trustworthy, you withhold or stop investing. Our giving may reflect some of the processing of change that has been happening over the past several months at KSBC. I hope it is not as blatant as leveraging our disagreement by not giving, but we have to factor in that some may think along these lines.
A third option for why giving is down is simply what the Bible calls “readiness” (2 Cor. 8:11). This term describes the mindset or attitude as being willing, ready, and even eager. In the Corinthian situation, the issues were not economic or confidence related; they simply had been distracted by other things. Once the Apostle appealed to them with an example of the eager generosity of others (sacrificial), the overwhelming grace of God seen in Christ (generosity) and the challenge to prove their love for God and others (cheerful), they were ready!
Sacrificial. Generous. Cheerful. This is the language of Christ-centered economics. God does amazing things through his people who think and give in these terms. I humbly bring them to your attention.
Thinking about living out our faith in terms of our money, I hope to write next week a bit about this quote from a book many in our church family have read called Radical by David Platt:
Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?
Stay tuned and think prayerfully about your readiness.