A colleague stirred her coffee and mused, “I wonder how the new tax law will impact how my people give to the church next year?” She is curious, because the standard deduction has roughly doubled for all filers. (Important resources are available to explain the impact of this tax change.) It’s expected that fewer people will itemize deductions such as charitable contributions. And without the incentive to save money on taxes, will that dampen peoples’ incentive to be generous with our congregations?
This is a great teachable moment.
What a perfect time to have a conversation with members of your congregation about why they give. Prepare by considering what motivates you to be generous. Approach the topic of generosity with curiosity.
“What a perfect time to have a conversation with members of your congregation about why they give.”
When I reflected on that in terms of my own giving to my congregation, I made a “top 10 list.” And saving money on my taxes fell quite low in my priorities!
- My relationship with God has changed my relationship with money.
- Because it all belongs to God anyway, I’m just taking care of it.
- I want more people to hear the really good news about Jesus.
- My money has power to do good things in the world.
- It’s an act of worship.
- It’s the most important thing I do to be less self-centered.
- It fills me with joy to be generous.
- Part of my offering fuels the work of the wider church, such as starting new congregations and supporting justice work and disaster relief.
- I’m proud to be an ELCA Lutheran and want to support the institution.
- It reduces my tax bill.
I wonder what your list includes?
STEWARDSHIP EXPERTS ADVISE that if you want to create a healthy money culture in your congregation, talk about money when you’re not asking for it. God cares about all our money, not just the portion we give away. It matters how we earn it; how we spend it; how we save it; and how we share it.
Pastor Greg Meyer at Jacob’s Well in Minneapolis regularly teaches his people how to make a budget and stick to it, and helps people to connect how they use their money with their faith values. That’s good stuff.
Let me know if you have this conversation in your congregation. I’d love to hear what you learn.