For fifty years of my life, I’ve been associated with local churches that have given over four million dollars collectively to outside denominational endeavors.
The typical mainline denominational church or parish will collect weekly offerings from their members. A percentage of this money each month is given to a state denominational office. The state office will in turn keep a large percentage of the money for state denominational purposes. The rest of it will be sent to the national denominational office. Some denominations have an international mission office and an American denominational office.
Local churches are always encouraged to give more of their weekly offerings to the state and national Christian causes. The state and national denominational entities employ people who do denominational work. They have full-time salaries, medical insurance, retirement plans and usually newer-model cars to drive. They need more money like most everyone else. Many churches will give 10% and often as high as 25% of their general offering to these denominational entities outside of the local church.
The denomination rewards the local churches by praising them. Patting them on the back. They will usually list the top 100 giving churches on their denominational website or state denominational publication piece. They will work hard to enlist the pastor of the local church to serve on state committees. This is done to make the pastor feel important and to keep their hand in the local church through the church’s pastor. Executives from the denomination will come a couple of times a year to visit the local church members and praise them for their generosity. This usually is about the summation of what the local church gets back from their sacrificial 10 to 25% giving.
In far too many cases the local church deprives itself of needed money to fund their own local needs. The local minister often has to scrape to get by while the local church is mailing a big check to the denominational hierarchy.
I’ve been a strong advocate of international and state missions most of my life. However, I am tired of seeing so many small churches do without while the state and national denominational entities – regardless of the denomination – have more.
If your local church has been mailing 15% of its money down to the state denominational office every month, then why not keep 8% to do local mission work in your neighborhood? Will the state or national denominational office come to your town and help the homeless? Are they in your town helping unwed mothers and ministering to pregnant teenagers? Are they supporting the local halfway house for drug addicts and safe house for abuse victims? Are they going door to door in your neighborhood telling people about God’s love? Too many churches rationalize, “We are doing mission work by sending our money to the state denominational office.”
Local churches should use more of their mission money at home. Your local area has needs. Jesus gave the Great Commission to go into the world, but too often we miss what is right in our face. I’m for supporting mission work around the world, but your greatest mission work is in your neighborhood.