An Open Table where Love knows no borders

You, Money, and the Church

Scroll down to find information on the following:

  • Church Money – Where it Come From and Where it Goes
  • How To Think About Your Giving
  • How to Do Your Giving
  • How Much Should You Be Giving?
  • What if you have nothing to give?
  • Online Suggested Giving Calculator

Church Money – Where it Come From and Where it Goes

This Church encourages all its participants to take seriously their responsibility to contribute towards the funds of the Church according to their ability. In Baptist churches there is no central fund and each church must be financially independent, so everything we have to pay depends on what individuals give as their offerings. Not only the paying of our employees, but our ability to turn the lights on or serve coffee relies on us collecting enough during the year to cover the costs. You can view the current church budget here.

How To Think About Your Giving

Many people, quite appropriately, think of their offering primarily as an expression of their worship given to God. In some churches, passing the plate around during the service gives a clear expression of this. For some people in our congregation, the act of prayerfully placing an offering in the bag on the table is a similar act of worship. But it is important to remember that your financial giving is not only important to God. It is also an important part of your commitment to a group of people. It is about you taking responsibility for your share of the costs incurred in doing what we do together. The church is probably the only organisation you belong to that allows you to choose your own membership fee! But, because it doesn’t set a compulsory fee, it is important to think carefully about how you approach it and what your fair share might be.

Planning is important. Those who haven’t made a decision about how much they intend to give usually end up just looking in their wallet on a Sunday night and giving a part of whatever cash happens to be there. It is rather similar to the way we tip a waiter! When thought of as an act of worship, it is perhaps a bit disrespectful, and when thought of as taking a share of a collective budget, it is far from responsible. It is also the case that most people carry less cash than in previous times, because we use it for less of our major expenses. More on the implications of that later.

Whether you are there or not, the bills still need to be paid. If you plan to give $100 per week, but don’t make up for it on the weeks when you are away, you haven’t really followed through on your plan. Church is not an event that you pay to attend. It is an association whose costs you agree to take a share of, and those costs don’t stop when you’re not there. Think about why it is no use asking your landlord to waive your rent for the weeks you go away on holiday, and then transfer those ideas to your thinking about your offerings to the church.

Giving and voting. Whenever a church meeting is considering taking on a new financial commitment that requires an increase in the offerings, you need to think very carefully about how you vote. You are voting on whether to increase a financial commitment of which you have to take your share. It is not someone else’s problem. If you are willing to increase your offering by the percentage increase that is needed, then you can vote in favour. If you are not able to increase your offering, then you should say so, and either vote against or abstain. Communicating your inability to increase your offering is crucial, because other people need to factor the implications of that into their voting.

How to Do Your Giving

Our society is undergoing a big transition in the way we handle money. Once upon a time, workers received a pay packet with cash in it. We paid most of our expenses from that cash, and banked anything leftover. Now, most people’s pay goes straight to the bank and most of their expenses are paid for electronically. Cheques are becoming rarer, and many of us seldom use cash for anything other than petty expenses like a loaf of bread or a cup of coffee. For many of us, the way we think about money has changed accordingly: cash means casual expenditure, not serious commitment. If that is true of you too, you may need to rethink the way you do your giving to the church.

If you still use cash or cheques for regular major expenses, then you may wish to continue that method at church too. We do not pass an offering plate around during our worship service, but there is a bag provided on the table of gifts in the worship space where you can place your offering before or after the liturgy. You will probably wish to accompany your act of putting it there with a prayer that gives thanks for God’s provision to you and dedicates the money to the ministry of the church. If you are using cash or cheques, you may find it helpful to adopt an envelope system. In the past when most people used cash, churches often provided these envelopes, but it is easy to make your own. Decide whether you are going to divide your giving into weekly instalments or into instalments that match your pay interval. Get a set of envelopes and mark them with the dates for the next six months or a year. Whenever you sort your cash after pay day, put your offering amount in the envelope(s) for that period. That way, you won’t lose track of your giving if you are away some weeks. Whenever you come, just bring any full envelopes and put them in the bag.

If electronic banking is the way you now handle your important financial commitments, then you should seriously consider handling your church giving that way too. This doesn’t mean you have to lose the prayerful act of worship that accompanies placing cash in the bag. It is still entirely appropriate to use the presence of the bag on Sunday as a prompt to offer a prayer of thanksgiving and dedication of your offering, even though you are not physically handling it. Or you may prefer to offer such a prayer while lighting a candle before one of the icons.

There are several ways of setting up your regular giving electronically.

  • Some employers are happy to split your wages into two or three different accounts. In that case, you can arrange for your intended giving to go straight from your pay into the church account.
  • You can set up a direct debit. This requires filling out a form and giving it to our church treasurer authorising our bank to withdraw a regular amount from your bank account.
  • You can set up a periodic payment. This is similar in effect to a direct debit, but you arrange it all with your own bank (probably on-line) to regularly make a payment to the church account. Because it is all done at your end, it gives most people a greater feeling of involvement and control than the direct debit.
  • For any of these, you will need the church’s bank account details, which are:

BSB: 704 922
Account no: 100 005 423
Name: South Yarra Community Baptist Church

Please include you name with the payment, or let the treasurer know of your payment schedule so that we are not trying to account to the auditors for unknown deposits!

  • You can also make payments on-line with a PayPal account or credit card. Just click on the button above to get started.

If you would like help with setting up one of these electronic methods of giving, please speak to either the pastor or the church treasurer, Ian Cook, about it.

How Much Should You Be Giving?

There are two main ways to think about this.

The first would be to take the budgeted offerings figure (currently $39,000 per year), estimate your share by dividing it among the members who are able to contribute (we currently have 33 regular adult attenders of whom only about a third are in paid employment) and then factoring it up or down based on an estimate of whether you are above or below the average financial means of the group.

The more common way is to commit to giving a particular percentage of your available income. The biblical guideline and traditional church teaching was that a person should give at least a tithe (10%) of their gross income. However that custom developed in a rural subsistence culture and is seldom a good guide for modern city dwellers. Some people spend 60% of their income paying for their housing, and if they took out another 10% they wouldn’t be able to eat. A few years ago we worked out a new guideline for our members based on a more complicated formula that deducts most major living expenses before asking for a percentage of the remainder. It looks complicated on paper, but there is an easy to use calculator below.

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The formula for calculating your suggested minimum financial contribution to the church.

For a Single Person

  1. Decide what time interval to work with (probably you pay interval), whether weekly, fortnightly, monthly or something else. Apply that interval to all steps.
  2. Take your net income (after tax and superannuation deductions).
  3. Deduct your housing costs (rent or mortgage payments) and any regular medical or pharmaceutical costs (some people have chronic conditions).
  4. Deduct $7560 per year ($630 p.m., $290 p.f., $145 p.w.). If your utilities costs are included in your rent (eg. Boarding House), this deduction should only be $5515 per year. If your meals and your utilities are included in your rent (eg. Supported accommodation) there is no deduction here.
  5. From the remainder, deduct 15% or $68.50 per week (whichever is the greater) for each dependent child.
  6. 16% of the remainder is your agreed minimum contribution. However if you have special circumstances that the formula doesn’t take into account, speak to the pastor and a variation may be recommended.

Variation for couple – both involved in the church.

  • Use your combined income but double the deduction at step 4.

Variation for partnered person whose partner is not involved in the church.

  • If you are the higher income earner of the couple, use the above formula based on your combined income but double the deduction at step 4, and at step six, use 8% instead of 16%.
  • If you are the lower income earner of the couple, use the above formula based on your combined income but double the deduction at step 4, and at step six, reduce the 16% according to the proportion of your income in the combined income. E.g. if you earn one quarter of your combined income, then your contribution is one quarter of 16% = %4.


What if you have nothing to give?

For some people, the on-line calculator will confirm that you barely have enough to live on and have no money to give to the church. What if that makes you feel that you’re not pulling your weight? There are other ways to give. Money is not the only thing the church needs. Perhaps you have some time and abilities to make a bigger contribution in other ways. There is always plenty of work to be done to keep our building and gardens maintained and our regular activities going. Some things even have direct financial implications. For example, not long ago we paid a painting contractor to sand back and repaint the window frames on the church and the house. If one or two of our members had had the time and ability to do that themselves, it would have the same effect as putting several thousand dollars in the offering.