Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.– 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)
Have you ever noticed how money is a topic that no one wants to talk about? A conversation can be sailing nicely along, but then the topic of finances comes up and suddenly things come to a screeching halt. Or, perhaps when you’re in church, you remain tuned in until the church budget is discussed or the offering call is made—and then you find your mind wandering. While money tends to be an uncomfortable topic, it is a necessary part of running and maintaining the Church.
In many places, the outreach and progress of the Church would not be possible without the financial support of mission-minded Seventh-day Adventists from more fortunate parts of the world.
A recent study (2016) conducted by Petr Cincala, René Drumm, and Duane McBride on behalf of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR) and the North American Division, surveyed 872 North American church members. The purpose of the study was to examine patterns of giving toward World Mission Offerings, including the typical reasons for giving and barriers to giving.
When asked in what ways they had given to the Church missions in the last 12 months, respondents indicated that they gave weekly, twice a month, or once a month in a variety of following ways. The largest way (63%) that they reported giving was through Sabbath School offerings. Other areas of large giving were world budget giving (37%), as well as the thirteenth Sabbath offering (15%). It could be that these areas gained the most support because they are simply the easiest avenues by which to give when attending church.
Mission Offering survey (2016), n=872
Members also reported supporting other mission projects. Over half (54%) reported giving to a short term mission trip at their church or giving to someone they knew. Another 45% reported giving to special mission projects that were dear to their Sabbath School class or congregation. As you can see, a large number of members report giving to missions outside of the mission offering.
MIssion Offering Survey (2016), n=872
While all of this giving is commendable, one might question why church members invest in these projects at all. What is their true motivation, beyond: “it’s what you’re supposed to do”? As part of this same study, members were asked just that. Nearly two in five (39%) of respondents indicated that they give to help win people to Christ. Another 17% shared that they give in order to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Approximately one in seven (14%) indicated that they give because they believe God commands it.
The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul specifically tells the believers in Corinth not to give because they have to or give begrudgingly, but to give because they want to do so. The same advice goes for members of the Church today. God does not want us to give because we feel obligated to do so, or because we want to impress those around us. God wants us to give generously, from our hearts, contributing gladly as a reflection of the blessings He has bestowed upon us.
Traditionally, many Adventists around the world use the end of the year to bless others and contribute to the Church’s mission worldwide. It is thanks to giving to the Church’s mission program that it now spans the globe—without mission offerings, our progress in the 10/40 Window and in the world’s big cities will continue to be slow.
It is time to put away the discomfort associated with money – specifically in regards to our giving habits. When is the last time you were a “cheerful giver”? If you can’t think of a recent time when you gladly gave with joy in your heart, perhaps it’s time to rethink your giving habits.
Created in collaboration with the Institute of Church Ministry.