REPORT OF STEWARDSHIP COMMITTEE
This report is brought in response to resolutions adopted at Annual Conference as recorded in the 1961 Year Book, reading as follows:
Page 47: “Resolved, That the Publication and Printing Committee print a limited number of receipt forms and that a Committee on Stewardship be elected, composed of three pastors and two laymen to study the financial structure throughout the denomination.”
Page 54: “Resolved, That the Faith Promise Card recommended by the Board of Church Extension, be referred to the Committee on Stewardship.”
I. BIBLICAL BASIS FOR CHURCH FINANCE
A. Receiving of the Lord’s Money
1. The tithe antedates the Law
The tithe or tenth was used as a systematic method of giving before the provision made under the Law (Genesis 14:18-20); Hebrews 7:4). In the time of Moses the tithe of land, fruit, grain and beast were to be given to the Lord by God’s command at Sinai (Leviticus 27:30-34) Note that these were considered as belonging to the Lord (Psalm 24:1); it is implied that the tenth of the increase was “land rent” — an acknowledgment that the whole land belongs to God.
2. Levites the recipients of the tithe under the Law
The Levites were the recipients of the tithe as their portion in Israel (Numbers 18:20-32). Nine-tenths of what was received was for their support, the other tenth being given to Aaron by them as an offering to the Lord (v.28). This is the divinely appointed means of supporting the tabernacle service: “…it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.” (v. 31)
3. The tithe is the Lord’s
The tithe was to be given to the Lord, the Lord’s House or the Lord’s Work. The Lord designated the place for the giving of the tithe (Deuteronomy 12:5-7). Giving at the place of the Lord’s choice, and not every man doing what was right in his own sight is emphasized in vv. 8,13,14. If the tithe is the Lord’s, it no longer is ours to say what is to be done with it. The judgment as to where the tithe is to be given is not left to the individual, but is placed in the hands of divinely chosen representatives. God challenges His people to try this plan and promises an overflow of blessing (Malachi 3:8-10).
4. The tithe a minimum under the New Testament law of love
We find no record in the New Testament of a command regarding tithing, but it is reasonable to believe that the Lord would be pleased that His people should give no less than under the Mosaic economy. The New Testament changes the motive from keeping an external law to following an inner compulsion — love and gratitude (II Corinthians 8:12; I Corinthians 16:2)
5. The Tithe belongs to Christ and His Church
The tithe belongs to Christ. Hebrews 7:2-9 indicates that Christ, who is a priest after the order of Melchizedec, is greater than Levi. As our living High Priest (v. 8) He is the successor to all priesthoods and the proper recipient of all tithes. Thus the Church, the body of Christ, rightfully receives tithes given to Christ, just as the Levites received tithes under the Old Testament Law.
B. Distribution of the Lord’s Money
1. Systematic administration of tithes and offerings under Old Testament Law
A very graphic illustration of the systematic giving of tithes and offerings and the detailed administration of them is found in II Chronicles 31. The implication of Malachi 3 is that distribution was to be made from the “storehouse,” even as the Levites were in charge of the affairs of the tabernacle in Moses’ day.
2. Orderly administration of temporal affairs in the New Testament Church
ACTS 6:1-6, in which is recorded the entrusting of the oversight of temporal affairs to “…men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom,” is a pattern of delegated responsibility in the local church. One of the gifts to the body, the church, is that of “rulers” (Romans 12:8) who superintend the order of the body with authority. I Corinthians 12 speaks of a diversity of function within the framework of unity. Although not all parts perform the same work, all are dependent upon and in subjection to one another. Among these are “helpers” and “administrators.” (v. 28 Amp. NT)
3. Orderly administration of finances in the New Testament Church
That the administration of finances was committed to men in authority is indicated by several passages. Acts 11:29,30 speak to the elders, who administered it. Paul in II Corinthians 9 speaks of the “Administration of this service” (v. 12), referring to the gift promised by the Corinthian believers (v. 5). The Amplified New Testament illuminates the manner in which these gifts were communicated to the saints at Jerusalem in vv. 11 and 12; “Thus you will be enriched in all things and in every way, so that you can be generous, (and your generosity as it is) administered by us will bring forth thanksgiving to God. For the service the ministering of this fund renders does not only fully supply what is lacking to the saints…but it also overflows in…thanksgiving to God.” In another reference to these collections for the saints Paul calls for an orderly gathering of them, laying aside money weekly for this purpose until the time arrives of it to be sent to Jerusalem. (I Corinthians 16:1-3)
4. Distribution by the Church
Philippians 4:15 seems to imply that churches rather than individuals supported Paul on some occasions on his missionary travels. Thus we conclude that the church through its officers distributed the Lord’s money to meet the varied needs of His work. We further conclude that the above teachings from both Old and New Testaments point in the direction of systematic and orderly administration of funds committed to the church.
II. PROBLEMS EXISTING IN THE BIBLE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH
A. The Local Church Level
1. Disproportionate allocation of duns by the individual contributor
The question each contributor is faced with is, How much shall I give for pastoral support? For Church Extension? For Foreign Missions? For current expenses? For special offerings? Unfortunately, accurate information regarding the needs is not always available to help him make his decision. He is obliged to give more on the basis of feeling than fact; and feelings are not quite so reliable as fact when seeking God’s direction in this important matter. Thus, congregations find some areas of the work suffering for lack of funds.
2. Irregular giving habits
Some congregations find their finances largely controlled by the number in attendance at a given service. What happens to the tithe of God’s people on a snowbound Sunday? What happens to a particular cause for which an offering was received on that day?
3. Cumbersome and inadequate record of individual giving
In this day when the tax burden upon the individual is so heavy, good stewards of God’s money will seek honest exemptions by listing contributions to charitable organizations. The Federal Government, in seeking our fraud, demands sufficient bonafide evidence of giving to the church organization. Our present system of collection of funds on the local level makes keeping of records difficult and inadequate for this purpose.
4. Inadequate giving
Because of an inadequate knowledge of the total program of the local church and the conference, many people feel that a portion of their tithe is sufficient. They are more deeply challenged by works outside the church, often because we have failed to give a comprehensive view of the needs of God’s program in our own churches.
B. The Conference Level
1. Denominational projects
To refresh our consideration of this subject and for the purpose of orderly presentation, the denominational projects are listed below:
Foreign Mission in Sunday School
Church Extension in Sunday School
Printing and Publication
The Home for the Aged
Sunday School Promotion
Berean Bible School
District Superintendents’ Offerings
District Superintendents Parsonages
Ministers’ Retirement Fund
Mizpah Grove Camp Meetings
2. The need for improved stewardship
We have many obligations. At the denominational level, it would seem a fair evaluation to find that, in many ways as a group, we do not acknowledge all of these obligations.
We voted to purchase the properties in the following list. Since the dates shown, our financial support of these purchases has not enabled the reduction of even one dollar in the indebtedness incurred:
1953 — Allentown District Parsonage — $11,244.37
1954 — Bethlehem District Parsonage — $16,000.00
1956 — Victory Valley — $16,000.00
For many years the Board of Foreign Missions has loaned the Board of Directors $22,000 as a working fund. Without such a working fund, the Board of Directors could not have carried on the business of the church.
In 1961 the Board of Directors paid and bore the following expenses (see p. 85 of 1961 Year Book):
Attorney Fees———————————- $ 180.95
Articles of Faith Committee Fares ———- $ 144.50
Ministerial Candidates Comm. Fares ——- $ 89.12
Board of Directors Fares ——————– $ 79.36
Government Committee Fares ————– $ 591.21
Moral Standards Committee and
Committee on Forms Fares ————— $ 233.87
Summer Camp Committees —————– $ 22.34
Workmen’s Compensation Insurance —— $ 247.20
Safe Deposit Box Rental ——————– $ 5.50
Stationery, Printing, Postage ————— $ 44.22
Office (Equipment repairs, help) ———– $ 31.45
And for these expenses there is no provision for receiving the money required. The income available to meet these administration expenses is interest received on various loans made by the Board. In 1961 the interest income was $722.41. In some years income is produced by operation of Mizpah Grove Camp Meetings. Years ago balances on our Sunday School Conventions were used for expenses of the Board of Directors.
We are prone to vote for this project or that. But frequently we seem to behave as though the obligation created thereby is not our responsibility. When we voted to purchase parsonages for the use of our District Superintendents, we voted that each of our churches shall receive an offering toward the purchase and maintenance of these houses. In the eight or nine years since, the sums of all these offerings failed by $1,818.88 to cover the costs of ownership, such as insurance, interest on the debt, repairs and taxes. The deficit represents an increase in our indebtedness, and as has already been observed, the original indebtedness made when the properties were acquired has not been touched.
To provide for a modest annual development in the faculty and facilities of Berean Bible School, it must receive a minimum support from us of $25,000 annually. For several years our support of Berean has been good, but we never quite reached our goal of $25,000 annually in support of our school.
Much time has been spent discussing facilities to care for the aged of our number. We now have a beautiful building in which to care for them. In 1961, the total of our contributions for this work was $1,686.27. We have paid help in our Home. Out total giving is insufficient to pay the wages of one man for one year.
Our District Superintendents receive no allowance to cover their traveling expenses. These men each drive their cars 30,000 miles annually in carrying out their duties. When one our committees brought a recommendation that they be salaried, this body seemed to shrink from the suggestion.
3. Methods now used to meet the needs
Free Will Offerings
Home for the Aged
Sunday School Promotion
Berean Bible School
Parsonages for District Superintendents
Ministers’ Retirement Fund
Mizpah Grove Camp Meetings
Publication and Printing
4. The effectiveness of our methods
There is evidence that our people are not sold on our programs. Communications on denominational programs are almost entirely in the hands of the individual pastors. This committee cannot know how each of our denominational programs is presented to our constituency. It is quite human to expect that each individual places emphasis on his greatest interest, and that to some, certain endeavors have no appeal and so receive scanty mention. An examination of the records shows that occasionally even the rules of Conference are ignored in that all of the prescribed offerings do not come in, with no official notice or disciplinary action being taken. All this puts our denominational projects in the position of being generally subject to the impulse of the moment or to the more emotional appeals of channeling our funds into the more glamorous programs. Are we failing to do the will of the Lord in not meeting these obligations? Or did we fail in knowing the will of the Lord when we embarked on these programs?
Over the five-year period 1957-1961 our offerings were divided as follows:
Giving to Denominational Projects Giving to Local Work
Total % of Grand Tl. Total % of Grand Tl. Grand Tl.
1957 $157,765 24.5 $486,075 75.5 $643,840
1958 $170,040 25.8 $489,664 74.2 $659,704
1959 $184,441 26.2 $519,090 73.8 $703,531
1960 $184,620 24.8 $560,736 75.2 $745,356
1961 $173,871 24.0 $548,966 76.0 $722.837
The increase of $6,100 in our offerings for denominational projects in 1961 over 1957 was made up of the following differences:
Foreign Missions———————- $ 4,130
Foreign Missions in S.S.————- $ 330
Church Extension——————— 3,000
Church Extension in S.S.———— 1,640
Publication and Printing————- 1,230
Home for Aged———————– 440
Beneficiary Fund——————— 110
Sunday School Promotion———- 460
Berean Bible School—————– 80
Victory Valley———————— 1,780
District Supt. Offerings————– 1,070
District Supt. Parsonages———— 270
Ministers’ Retirement Fund——— 300
Camp Meetings———————– 7,100
$14,020 $ 7,920
In 1961, the proportion of our total giving by individual churches for denominational programs was as follows:
Where Total Offerings Were: Denominational Programs Were:
Over $ 5,000 but not over $ 6,000 42
Over $ 6,000 but not over $ 7,000 14 to 18
Over $ 7,000 but not over $ 8,000 28
Over $ 8,000 but not over $ 9,000 26
Over $ 9,000 but not over $ 10,000 11 to 23
Over $ 10,000 but not over $ 11,000 11 to 26
Over $ 11,000 but not over $ 12,000 14 to 19
Over $ 12,000 but not over $ 13,000 18
Over $ 13,000 but not over $ 14,000 30
Over $ 14,000 but not over $ 15,000 19 to 20
Over $ 17,000 but not over $ 17,000 25 to 33
Over $ 19,000 but not over $ 22,000 17 to 39
Over $ 22,000 but not over $ 24,000 25 to 28
Over $ 36,000 but not over $ 40,000 11 to 33
Over $ 40,000 30 to 35
Are there any particular conclusions that can be drawn from these statistics? We undertake to suggest the following:
1) Is the level of giving to our denomination’s projects our best effort? “There is that
scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24
2) Can we establish criteria with respect to proper proportions of our total giving that
should go toward support of our denomination’s projects? May of our congregations are small. Obviously in a small congregation, a much larger proportion of the total giving must be retained to sustain the work of the particular church — its pastor, its buildings, its operating expenses. Should the same ratio between funds retained to sustain the work of the particular church and funds contributed to the forwarding of the denomination’s projects prevail as the size of the church increases? Can we look to the Lord to add to the church such as should be saved until each particular church attains a size that will permit it to contribute one dollar to the work of the denomination for each dollar it uses for its own programs?
3) If we are doing our best in supporting our denomination’s projects, perhaps
retrenchments must be made since we could justifiably conclude that we are overextended. Certainly caution is indicated toward further proposals at this time for extension of such projects.
III. ALTERNATIVES IN OUR DENOMINATIONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
A thorough treatment of the matter of financial management on both the local and denominational levels should include a delineation of the alternatives before us. What are they?
A. Stay the Way We Are
One of the alternatives before us is to stay the way we are — simply continue what we
have been doing. But is this the answer to our pressing financial problems? Can we continue much longer the way we have been? As was pointed out above, there are denominational financial obligations which we have not been meeting. Are such practices in keeping with the injunctions of Romans 12:17, “Provide things honest in the sight of all men,” and Romans 13:8, “Owe no man anything?” To continue the way we have been will only further aggravate problems, many of which can be solved or at least relieved.
B. Be More Forthright
Another alternative is to be more forthright in meeting all our financial obligations
within the framework of present methods and procedures, without making any changes. This might necessitate stronger appeals for money, more frequent reminders of needs, more “special” offerings, etc. It may also serve to intensify some existing problems.
Another alternative is assessments. Whether or not we like this method, the experience of our denomination shows that it works. A recent outstanding example of this is the Publication and Printing Fund. Assessments are not new to us. In a limited way we have had them for years. Many, however, take the position that assessments are not consistent with the principle of free will giving.
D. Advance Planning
Still another alternative is advance planning with the subordination of individual interests. Several local churches have adopted this plan with satisfactory results.
IV. LOOKING TOWARD A SOLUTION
It is the mind of this committee that of the alternatives presented above, the last one offers the most hope for solution of our financial dilemma. It is not a foolproof method, nor a cure-all. This section of the report will clarify the meaning of “advance Planning,” present the pros and cons of the plan, and suggest some ways in which it may be implemented.
A. What Is Advance Planning?
Advance planning involved the use of a tool called a budge. A budget is a financial statement reflecting the estimated income and expense of an organization for a designated period of time, frequently one year. It is, furthermore, an authorization to incur the expenditures and to receive the income.
1. Objectives of a budget
To be properly understood the budget must have clear objectives. There are three
commonly accepted objectives of church budgets:
a. It should serve as a guide
It is a plan of operations over a given period of time. The church program and its attendant needs are the basis upon which costs are estimated. A budget tells the reader what is anticipated in the way of income for the period and what are the plans for the use of this income. It serves as a financial road map, which facilitates the reaching of specific goals.
b. It should serve as an authorization
It should serve as an authorization for receiving of funds and expenditures of
resources. The church or organization considers the budget proposals, makes changes when necessary, and by its vote authorizes its officers to go about the business of receiving and expending money along the lines indicated in the budget.
c. It should serve as a control
Good stewardship lays upon a church the necessity of seeing that its money is being used to the best possible advantage in conducting the Lord’s work. When its budget has been adopted the congregation or organization has the assurance that funds will be directed to the areas outlined in the budget, and it thereby has control over its funds.
2. Types of budgets
There are three major types of budges used in churches. They are organizational, modified organizational, and unified budgets.
a. The organizational budget
The organizational budget involves a series of budgets, one for each organization in the church (or Boards in the Conference). Each group formulates its financial goals according to the needs of its proposed program and then sets forth the manner in which the money is to be raised. Each organization has its own finance committee and maintains a separate treasury.
b. The modified organizational budget
The modified organizational budget involves a series of budgets, as does the former type of budget, but all receipts and expenditures of the various organizations or boards pass through a central treasure.
c. The unified budget
The unified budget is a system whereby the program and needs of all the organizations are included in one statement. All receipts and expenditures are in the hands of a central body, which looks to the congregation or the Conference for its authority.
B. Pros and Cons of Advance Planning
1. Arguments against
a. It is unscriptural
Advance financial planning involves budgeting. Church budgeting often includes what is known as “storehouse giving.” The scriptural justification for storehouse giving is found in Malachi 3:10: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be m eat in mine house…” According to this method there is one central treasury from which funds are allocated according to previously adopted apportionments. This, some hold, is unscriptural, in that the storehouse idea of giving was ceremonial law intended only for Israel. Those who hold to this view declare that the storehouse plan is never presented as God’s plan for the church age; that the New Testament teaches that giving is to be directed to the source of blessing; that it is a human tradition and not Bible doctrine.
b. It produces undesirable results
Close management, with advance planning, it is held, almost always tends toward assessments or taxation. That, it is insisted, is altogether incompatible with the New Testament principle of free will giving entirely apart from any external coercion.
c. It has limitations
It is argued that there are often unforeseen and sometimes sizeable emergency needs that arise. Once a plan is adopted it can be so inflexible and rigid that a whole set of new problems are introduced.
2. Arguments for
a. It is scriptural
Careful, systematic management of church finances, with advance planning, is scriptural. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” This statement alone is sufficient justification for the most careful management of church finances. The scriptures cited in the first section of this report are further evident that it does not violate, but rather fulfills scriptural injunctions.
b. It assures better balance
More careful financial management will assure better balance. Some of our denominational projects have consistently operated with a substantial cash balance year after year. Other projects are financially embarrassed. For still other needs such as the Board of Directors and other denominational administrative expenses there is no per se provision. Proper management with advance planning would make for all denominational projects to be conducted in a Christian business-like way.
c. It provides for more effective, judicious long-range planning
More systematic management would also provide for more effective, judicious long-range planning. There would be systematic deficit reduction in all department with provision for future goals and planning.
d. It elevates giving
More orderly management would also elevate giving. Offerings are no longer given to a project, a personality, or a private interest, but to the Lord. All too often giving is done on the basis of a whim, impulse, sentiment, personal preference or in response to the best salesmanship or the most emotional appeal. The results have already been noted. A well-manages financial program would tend to eliminate carnal appeals, impulsive giving, and the all-too-frequent pleas for special offerings for specific projects. The financial handicap of variations in church attendance would also be reduced. An important requirement, of course, is the subordination of personal and private interests to be overall program and welfare of the church. We are one body in the Lord. If we are going to live and work as a unit, self must be subordinated.
e. It eliminates rivalry
Better financial management with advance planning will tend to eliminate rivalry. Lack of a carefully administered financial program tends to encourage competition between various denominational projects. This si most undesirable and harmful to the body of Christ.
f. It tends to increase giving
More careful management of finances tends to increase giving. Where systematic methods are adopted, God’s people tend to become more systematic and liberal in their giving. The promise of Malachi 3:10 is experienced: “…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
C. Implementing the Plan
Several congregations within our fellowship have proposed budgets and at least two
have adopted this procedure. The following describes in brief the effort they have made and the results attained.
a. Partial budgeting of church funds
Salem Church, Philadelphia, developed a system of giving in which local expenses (except pastor support) and Annual Conference expenses (not including missions) were placed on a budgetary basis. A three-pocket envelope dated weekly and numbered for each individual contributor or contributing unit is in use. The areas covered by the envelope are Missions, Pastoral Support, and General Offerings (for local and conference support). An alleviation of the problems cited above has been experienced.
b. Modified unified budget
Calvary Church, Coopersburg, has inaugurated a budget which unified all income and expenditures for Church and Sunday School. Other church organizations operate independent of the budget. This system proportions each gift percentagewise to its proper categories as determined by the congregation in the adoption of the budget. All money flows to a central treasury and bills are paid from that source. A single pocket envelope dated weekly and numbered for each individual contributor or contributing unit is in use. The system is predicted on the faithfulness of God’s people in presenting their tithes and offerings to the Lord for use in the whole work of His church. Instead of each individual designating portions of his tithe to the various areas of the work, the entire congregation by note makes the designation through the budget. Most of the problems cited have been solved, some alleviated.
c. Consideration of receipts
In both of the above cases the systems adopted have produced adequate records for the issuing of receipts by the local church, which are accepted by the Internal Revenue Service as a genuine proof of the tax-payer’s contributions.
A possible procedure for advance planning on the conference level may be as follows:
a. Congregational action
Each congregation would submit to the Adjourned Session of Annual Conference an estimate of the amount it expects to be able to contribute for denominational needs for the ensuing year.
b. Conference action
The conference treasurer or a committee appointed for this purpose would submit a budget for the ensuing year to the Annual Conference on the basis of the congregational figures submitted at the previous adjourned session.
James G. Koch, Chairman
Elwood L. Heiser, Secretary
LeRoy S. Heller
Byron C. Cassel
Daniel K. Ziegler
Report was adopted
Resolved, That we elect a Committee of 3 ministers and 2 laymen to present definite recommendations and to work with all boards and committees to assist them in the preparation of a budget system to be presented at next Annual Conference.