From Charisma Magazine - Amie Streater
Giving More on Less
13 Creative ways to stretch your giving
When 240,000 new jobs were added across the U.S. in February, economists expected March to become the fourth month in a row that the nation’s economy would grow by 200,000 or more jobs. But the so-called jobs recovery stalled in March, when the Department of Labor reported that just 120,000 were added.
This slowdown didn’t seem to surprise Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has been warning that America’s economic recovery is fragile and the increase in jobs might be “out of sync” with the rest of the economy. Indeed, nearly three years since the recession officially ended in June 2009, unemployment remains above 8 percent—which translates to at least 13 million Americans who don’t have jobs. And that figure doesn’t include those who are underemployed and would like to work more hours.
As Christians, we know God is our ultimate source of provision. Yet even as the job market has picked up in 2012, many of us—employed or not—continue to feel a pocketbook pinch from $4-a-gallon gas, upside-down mortgages and a general increase in cost-of-living expenses.
For many, the past few years have been a season of shrinking: shrinking incomes, shrinking jobs, shrinking retirement accounts, shrinking consumer confidence and—as any pastor can tell you—shrinking giving.
And where giving is concerned, certainly no one is happy about a decline. Pastors nationwide are definitely fatigued over constantly straining ministry budgets, and those feeling pinched in the pews certainly aren’t thrilled to give less.
I’ve found that most of us want to give more. As a financial stewardship pastor, I’ve prayed with a lot of people who are grieved about their giving. Even the unemployed—some with no income at all—can feel wrecked when they don’t write a tithe check because there’s nothing to tithe on.
That’s rare though. To be honest, most of us could give more if we simply plan for it and make room for it. For every bona fide broke person who really wants to give more, there are 10 others with unaffordable car payments and daily coffee shop and restaurant habits lamenting that they cannot afford to give.
Most of us are somewhere in the middle. We’re pinched, but with some fresh ideas and a little financial creativity, we can open our wallets as wide as our hearts.
Giving should be fun. It should bring joy to your heart. “God loves a cheerful giver,” concludes a great passage we all should remember in 2 Cor. 9:6-7.
These verses also say if we sow sparingly we will reap sparingly, but if we sow bountifully we will enjoy bountiful returns.
And even if your bottom line doesn’t feel “bountiful,” you can give bountifully and stretch your contributions with some creative thinking. You can:
- Free up extra cash so you are indeed giving more.
- Identify ways the church or ministry can save money.
- Get inspired by the fact that a penny saved really is a penny earned.
- Do work that the church might otherwise have to pay to have done.