BULLETIN ARTICLE – 29 October 2017
Apostle Paul is as down-to-earth as he is heavenly focused. In one breath, he speaks of the quite unfathomable resurrected bodies and in the next, he instructs the Corinthian Christians to attend to the basic needs within their community. The Apostle, who is the highly intelligent Bible scholar and teacher, shows himself to have a heart of care and compassion for the poor and needy. In Galatians 6:10 he shares: “let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Churches of present day, have different ways of taking their collections. Some strictly instruct members to give a stated proportion of their personal earnings and cell group leaders are to monitor the giving patterns of their members. For larger mainline churches, a convenient way they use is to provide GIRO forms for members to make their contributions. Those who make cash offerings are watched and monitored by their leaders and, if noticed to be remiss in doing so, they may be called up for discussion on this act of responsibility and accountability. They may even be required to declare their personal income to the church leaders. All this could be considered as extreme and intrusive. Giving to the churches become regimented and forced.
Most churches still make collections by simply passing the bags around for members to give voluntarily and joyfully as stated in 2 Corinthian 9:7 “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” In BKC, we simply “pass the bags” at our Sunday morning services for members to make their offerings to the Lord. We make known to visitors present that they need not participate in this financial giving unless they understand the meaning of Christian giving.
Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 16 teaches three principles on community and missionary support:1) Consistency 2) Proportionately 3) Intentionally. Consistently, “on the first day of every week”, the church members are to make it a regular practice. Giving and sharing are not natural, but making it a consistent practice, it becomes easier over time. The human nature and behaviour can be persuaded to act altruistically but the Christian giving is not altruism; it is in response to God’s command to love one another. Proportionately, “set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income”, so that those with more can contribute a larger sum and those in need may graciously be recipients of shared blessings. The responsibility of providing for the church community has to be judicially attended. Intentionally, the redistribution of the collections must be prudently managed. The Christ-like community must know its members and care enough to alleviate those in poverty. The Christian poor and needy should find relief and reprieve from worries over their basic needs for food and shelter. The church cannot neglect its duty to love and provide for the destitute in their midst. A simple and good principle to abide by in Christian giving is – “Giving to the Lord!”