Undying Commitment: A 14-day Study in Stewardship

Support for Religious Workers

God provided for the priests and their families. Leviticus 7:31-36 describes how large cuts of meat from fellowship offerings were to be set aside as the priests' 'regular share' (Lev 7:34). In addition, the Lord arranged for the priests to receive a portion of the tithes and offerings. In Israel's economy, the material needs of priests were met under the sacrificial system because the law precluded from them agricultural employment (see Nu 18:20-24).

'In the same way,' states the apostle Paul, 'the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel' (1Co 9:14, see also 1 Ti 5:17-18). Christian financial stewardship leader Howard Dayton agrees, saying, 'Throughout its pages, the Bible focuses on supporting the Lord's ministry.' But, Dayton asks, how often are Christian workers distracted from their ministry by inadequate support?

Authors and stewardship trainers Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery refer to the 'Law of Consistent Collection,' the principle at the core of Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 16:1-3. Simply put, consistent giving facilitates consistent ministry. Without an assurance of regular income, pastors run the risk of preoccupation with the practical concerns of meeting their financial obligations. Some find it necessary to seek supplemental employment, forcing them to limit the time and energy they can devote to their first calling. Sutherland and Nowery state:

There isn't a legalistic demand that we give an amount of money every week to the Lord's work, but that we give regularly and consistently. God's desire is that things be done decently and in good order, not in chaos or uncertainty. When there is a need, his plan is that his people give responsively to meet it. The ongoing operation of church's ministry, for example, requires the ongoing support of faithful believers.

Focusing on an individual giving strategy to ensure dependable support of clergy and the smooth operation of a church's programs, pastor and generosity consultant Brian Kluth shares a personal approach that has worked well for him:

If you're wondering about how much to give to your church and how much to give to other places: A good practice I have used is to give 10% of my main source of income to my local church (i.e., my main income goes to support the work of my main source of Christian fellowship and teaching). Then, I use 10% or more of all other income sources and unexpected blessings to help fund other Christian needs and opportunities that God brings into my life.

For most, a 10 percent giving strategy may seem wildly unattainable, while for others this percentage may be far too small. As Deuteronomy 12:5-7 describes, people have a variety of opportunities and options for giving. Each giver should give as God directs.