Why do churches take up an offering?

One of the most common complaints that I hear about churches is that they are always asking for money. The implication is that the pastor or the church is just trying to get rich by taking money from the hard working people people who attend. This accusation has an elelment of truth. Throughout church history there have been those who used the church as a means to get rich. Today there are a number of high profile pastors and evangelists who make millions off their congregations. One recently made the headlines by asking his followers to donate $54 million so he could purchase a private jet. Far too many church leaders follow the “the way of Balaam” because they love money more than God or man. (2 Peter 2:15)

Despite the high profile abuse of greedy false teachers, most churches and pastors are not trying to get rich off their parishioners. For every greedy pastor there are many more who labor long hours for little or no salary. The average pastor is not trying to live the easy life by sponging off his church members. So why do churches collect money every week? Why do churches teach that Christians should be give a part of their income to the church?

The most obvious answer is that churches have to pay the bills. The gospel is freely extended to everyone, but gospel ministry is rarely cheap. The work of the ministry comes with many costs. Heating, cooling and maintaining a building involves substantial monthly expenses. Any effort to provide physical help in the community or to reach out to the community with the gospel requires money be spent. Materials and resources all cost something. Many churches send monthly payments to help those doing gospel work in foreign countries. The basic operational costs of a church can reach a substantial figure every month, even before including salaries for the pastor and any staff members.

Every church has an obligation to pay its pastor. The New Testament specifically commands this. (1 Timohy 5:17-18; 1 Corinthians 9:4-11) Consider how much a church needs to collect each week just to pay the pastor the average salary of your community? If you add health insurance and a retirement plan, things most American workers expect, how much more will the church need to bring in each week? Churches collect an offering to help Christians obey God’s command to partner financially with the ministry and pastor that teaches them. (Galatians 6:6)

All these expenses add up so that even small churches in America often operate on annual budgets reaching six figures. This means an average sized church in America needs to bring in at least $2,000 a week to meet their ministry obligations. Taking up an offering every week helps the church meet their expenses. Since God requires Christians to financially support their church, churches give their members an opportunity to obey by passing the offering plate every Sunday. On top of all this, God promises rich blessings to those who give generously to the work of the church. The weekly collection is just one more chance for you to be blessed.

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