In a meeting with a group of men one of them began to talk about the giving in their church. Thirty years ago the church was nearly broke. A new pastor came to the church and slowly the finances began to improve until giving nearly doubled the budget needs of the church. This church was able to become a significant support of mission work in its denomination as well as do some incredible ministry locally. After several years this pastor left. Today, the church's giving has declined significantly. It gives almost nothing to mission support. When I asked the individual why the church had such a financial roller coaster he responded it had to do with the pastors and their teaching on giving.
The one pastor presented a biblical view of giving which included tithing. He was not afraid to preach sermons on stewardship, and he backed his teachings with his own faithful tithing. The pastor taught that a church does not take up an offering but receives an offering as part of its worship experience. As money came in it was wisely invested in Kingdom work. In time, giving improved dramatically in the church.
When this pastor left the new pastor told the church that tithing was not taught in the New Testament. He eliminated receiving an offering as part of the worship service and put up a collection box in the back of the sanctuary where people could put their offerings if they so chose to do so. Many of the new people who came into the church under his ministry did not have a biblical view of stewardship and did not support the church financially at the same level as before. As a result, the church is financially unable to minister as it had been doing.
As I've often written in this blog, everything rises and falls on leadership. This is certainly true in the church. After about three years the pastor's ministry philosophy and theology will become that of the congregation. If a pastor has a poor understanding of some aspect of biblical teaching it won't be long before many in the church shares that same understanding.
If a pastor wants his or her church to be an evangelistic church, then he or she better be evangelistic themselves and need to teach people how to share their faith with others. If a pastor wants a church with a biblical understanding of stewardship then he or she better be tithing and teaching biblical stewardship to the congregation.
What is the giving like in your congregation? What does that pattern say about what you are teaching about stewardship?