This was one of those odd “trending topics” days where several things seemingly unrelated keep bringing you back to the same topic... tithing!
As I was driving the kids to church tonight, my youngest was doing his civics/economics homework in the front seat. They are working on the economy and household budgets and there was a big pie chart on one page that he started telling me about. X% of your income should go to rent, X% should go to medical (I told him they should have printed an addendum for those percentages in the DC area) and so on, but when he got to charitable giving, it said 1 – 3%. What?!? It lead to a great conversation about tithing and that charitable giving was in addition to tithing not a replacement of it (of course there was not “tithing” slice on the pie) and what other percentages might be shifted around to “fix” the text book’s pie chart. Can’t wait to see the teacher’s reaction to that rabbit trail in his homework!
Then when I came home and opened the mail today, there were two letters from my church. One was a letter from the Pastor to the congregation and one was the 3rd quarter summary statement of our family’s annual tithing. I have to say, I really like this 3rd quarter summary because it always makes me feel so blessed to have had the financial means to be faithful in my giving. It also helps me see the big picture and is often a catalyst for a reevaluation for “what more could I be doing?”
I had an unexpected reaction when I opened it today though…. I saw the number at the bottom and said to myself “What?!?! That’s all I gave this year?!?!” Now, there were two quickly forgotten things at play in my knee-jerk reaction… one was that I forgot there were still two more months of giving left in the year; the other was that I forgot my family had only had a single income for the first 6 months of the year. I knew what our current household income was so when I did the simple math of 10% I was coming up seriously short. I felt much better after I figured out my mental error and that I was ahead of the game, but that still begs the original question “what more could I be doing?”
The second letter was from Pastor Stokes to the members of the congregation about our annual giving to date and a budget shortfall of about $85,000. In an economy like this, I know that we are very lucky that this is the extent of our year-to-date shortfall but I can’t help but be disappointed in a shortfall of any kind. Our church staff work very hard to put together an amazing time of worship, fellowship and Biblical message each week and I feel like we’ve let them down that they should have to worry about $85,000 in the last two months of the year. I know we have the collective capacity to make this up – almost effortlessly – if we all commit to it. If every single person who walked through Fair Oaks Church’s doors gave an extra $7 a week for the remaining 6 weeks we’d make up the difference in no time – for the cost of a 2 Venti Lattes a week. You didn’t need all those calories anyway (500 in the seasonal favorite Pumpkin Spice Crème, by the way).
Fair Oaks Church does not typically “pass the plate” but this Sunday we’re going old-school so be prepared and reach deep my friends. And don’t forget you can always give on line by clicking HERE.