Faith Works 11-5-16
Put Your Money Where Your Faith Is
Before we get off on any other topic: it's Time Change. "Fall back" two hours Saturday night before you go to bed, or end up getting to church in time for that pre-service thing you've been avoiding.
On the other hand, what a painless way to adjust into joining an adult class or other Sunday fellowship and study opportunity: forget what I said. Change your clocks on Sunday afternoon. See you tomorrow!
Sunday, Nov. 6 is also an opportunity to help the Licking County Coalition of Care in their work to help people in need by promoting collaboration and shared action between area churches. Their marquee fundraising event is at the Midland Theatre at 2:00 pm, and you can buy tickets at the door, or in advance.
This year they're saying "join us for a fresh & funny salute to Americana" called "The Wonder Bread Years." This is a one-man show, starring Pat Hazell (who is a former Seinfeld writer) which walks the line between stand-up and theater.
If you want an opportunity to help a charitable cause that's more participatory, there's the Licking County Coalition for Housing's "Home Run" coming up next Saturday, Nov. 12, at Rotary Park Pavilion on Sharon Valley Road, starting at 9:00 am.
It's their fourth 5K event, helping the homeless in Licking County. You can run or just walk (some of us are not so much runners…) but it does offer a timed race with medals for the top finishers overall and in each age group. The cost is an entry fee of $25 by tomorrow, Nov. 6, which goes up to $30 entry fee after this Sunday. There's a t-shirt and goody bag included for all registered participants, plus lunch and door prizes. You can go to www.lcchousing.org for registration.
Two coalitions, two collections of programs and congregations and individuals and opportunities working together. They each have their own emphasis, their own strengths, and you might choose to support one, or both, or others.
This time of year it's not unusual for me to be approached by church members, friends, or folks like you who read and then reach out by e-mail: which charitable giving is the best? How should I choose and manage my offerings in and around the community?
It's a good question, and one I wish I could offer a simple answer to, but there isn't one. Not even "send it all to me!" But under a few short headings, I think I can help.
First, do YOU have a budget? Tithing and your own church obligations are one thing, but if you don't know what your income and where your basic expenses are, then anything else you say to me about giving and sharing will be incomplete, even insincere no matter what your intentions. Telling me you tithe, but admitting you don't know your own household budget, makes me suspect we're talking about words, not dollars.
I do believe that giving "off the top" is a powerful, positive spiritual discipline. It's a way of saying to yourself, to those around you, and in your relationship with God: I know my own wishes and impulses don't come first. I know it's not all about me. I am blessed, and choose to bless others.
So make your budget, which can be painful. In truth, the main reason people don't have budgets is because they're afraid to see it in black and white on paper or up on the screen. But it's gonna be okay.
And if you make $30K per year and have expenses totaling $35K, you need to do some other work in managing your outflow before you give off your credit card. That neither honors God nor is it, I will safely say on behalf of every charitable organization, churchly or otherwise, what they want to be receiving.
When you know what you have, and you realize that, in fact, you are giving 2%, then fine, you're giving 2% of your income. Work on growing that (even if you're at 10%, I'd suggest growing that number is a healthy practice), and if next year is 2.5%, then that's growth.
When you plan your giving, your decisions about where and to whom you'll give become much clearer. I'm very certain about that. When it's out of the remainders and out of guilt, you get confused, muddled, and off the course that will bless you. When you plan, prepare, and put forward your giving before anything else, you'll find a new clarity about what you want those gifts to do.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; he's a big fan of budgets, and writes a version of this darn column every fall. Tell him about your adventures in budgeting and giving at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.