Author Topic: Death of mainline protestantism  (Read 27483 times)

Darrell Wacker

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #315 on: September 10, 2008, 10:29:00 PM »
Then I would say that well-to-do member had a warped view of Biblical stewardship.  Putting strings on the dollars is a way of exercising control.  I understand the practical aspects of people wanting to do it, but my point is that it is not in alignment with Biblical stewardship.

I confess that for matters like this, I need to look stuff up as I don't have everything memorized. But I'm sure that there are no prohibitions in the Bible from spending one's own money on doing specific good works of one's own choice. I mean, one's tithe goes to the treasury for the leadership of the congregation to spend as guided by God. But I'm not aware of any prohibition in the Bible from choosing what good works one wants to see accomplished with the other 90%.

By the theory that Biblical stewardship prohibits earmarks, when the Good Samaritan gave the inn keeper money to care for the robbery victim, he was demonstrated a warped view of stewardship. The Good Samaritan should have given the money to the priest or rabbi, and let them decide who to spend it on.

Where in the Bible is the prohibition for earmarking the other 90% of one's money located?


I would not state that there is a prohibition at all-specifically I was referring to the 10% set aside for the congregation.  Many people feel that even with that 10%, they have the right to "earmark" that.  Other giving above that, I have no problem with designating.  However, if someone feels they need to earmark that 10%, I have a problem with that.  If Biblical stewarship is the free and joyous response one has as a result of their salvation, I'm not sure how free and joyous it is if there are strings attached.

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #316 on: September 11, 2008, 07:48:43 AM »
I would not state that there is a prohibition at all-specifically I was referring to the 10% set aside for the congregation.  Many people feel that even with that 10%, they have the right to "earmark" that.  Other giving above that, I have no problem with designating.  However, if someone feels they need to earmark that 10%, I have a problem with that.  If Biblical stewarship is the free and joyous response one has as a result of their salvation, I'm not sure how free and joyous it is if there are strings attached.

Sorry. When you referred to "gifts" I assumed you meant "gifts", as in "donations over and above tithes".


Layman Randy

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #317 on: September 11, 2008, 06:45:11 PM »
I would not state that there is a prohibition at all-specifically I was referring to the 10% set aside for the congregation.  Many people feel that even with that 10%, they have the right to "earmark" that.  Other giving above that, I have no problem with designating.  However, if someone feels they need to earmark that 10%, I have a problem with that.  If Biblical stewarship is the free and joyous response one has as a result of their salvation, I'm not sure how free and joyous it is if there are strings attached.

Sorry. When you referred to "gifts" I assumed you meant "gifts", as in "donations over and above tithes".


Doesn't go to the theme of "free and joyous vs. strings attached", which is an important subject, however, practical application:
Too many congregations accept "designated gifts" that are "extra-budget" (outside of the budget) and do not account for them or authorize expenditure through By-Laws (or general accounting practices) idendified methods.  Good stewardship dictates full accountability. 

On the current drift, I am concerned about giving to congregations of "pass-through" funds by a member, often to avoid perceived potential for "mis-direction" by the congregation.
It is a form of "money laundering" that bothers me, and (again) is often not correctly accounted for by the congregations.  Some use this to justify their "tithe" while getting credit via their local congregation.  It is troubling to me.

Lutheran_Lay_Leader

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #318 on: September 11, 2008, 10:50:54 PM »
Doesn't go to the theme of "free and joyous vs. strings attached", which is an important subject, however, practical application:
Too many congregations accept "designated gifts" that are "extra-budget" (outside of the budget) and do not account for them or authorize expenditure through By-Laws (or general accounting practices) idendified methods.  Good stewardship dictates full accountability. 

What is the difference between someone stipulating in their will that a sum of money from their estate should go to the church for the church to use to replace the broken down organ and stipulating in their will that their executor should purchase a new organ and give the organ to the church? How is setting up a fund in one's will to accomplish some specific good work "attaching strings?" What would be the difference between someone donating funds to the church to purchase new paraments for the altar and someone buying new paraments and donating them?

 

Layman Randy

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #319 on: September 11, 2008, 11:29:12 PM »
Doesn't go to the theme of "free and joyous vs. strings attached", which is an important subject, however, practical application:
Too many congregations accept "designated gifts" that are "extra-budget" (outside of the budget) and do not account for them or authorize expenditure through By-Laws (or general accounting practices) idendified methods.  Good stewardship dictates full accountability. 

What is the difference between someone stipulating in their will that a sum of money from their estate should go to the church for the church to use to replace the broken down organ and stipulating in their will that their executor should purchase a new organ and give the organ to the church? How is setting up a fund in one's will to accomplish some specific good work "attaching strings?" What would be the difference between someone donating funds to the church to purchase new paraments for the altar and someone buying new paraments and donating them? 

I don't have a problem with either example, assuming that the church needs those items and that they are a proper and worthy priority, fitting in with basic needs, such as adequate compensation for the pastor and other paid staff, paying bills to all vendors in a timely manner, providing proper support to Synod, missions, and local help to those in need.
I visited a congregation about 17 years ago that had a grand new organ donated by a living member, but the roof and windows leaked like sieves, the pre-school froze in winter, the unpaid workers were a tad upset, and the concertina wire separating the place from the neighborhood was a tad rusty (sarcasm, but true).  But the organ was really great.  Someone may have benefitted from a little stewardship help.

My point was to encourage proper process and accounting, and a concern to avoid the "pass-through" system that may make a budget (and the giver) look good but potentially skew a budget, absolutely nothing more.  Trying to be constructive.  Does this help explain my comment?

Team Hesse

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #320 on: September 12, 2008, 01:14:10 AM »
I am concerned about giving to congregations of "pass-through" funds by a member, often to avoid perceived potential for "mis-direction" by the congregation.
It is a form of "money laundering" that bothers me, and (again) is often not correctly accounted for by the congregations.  Some use this to justify their "tithe" while getting credit via their local congregation.  It is troubling to me.

Depending on what you are referring to here, exactly, it could even be illegal for a giver to do this and still take a charitable tax deduction.  I am treasurer of our congregation so I did some reading when I took on the task.

For instance, if you have a scholarship fund for college or high school kids --  people can donate specifically to the scholarship fund, but they have no say in who gets the money -- it has to be a congregational decision in order for the donation to be tax deductible to the giver.  If there are no congregational funds for scholarships this year, but someone wants to donate $1000 to go to  Sally so she can get a matching scholarship from her Lutheran college (many do this if it's a congregational scholarship), the giver can't direct it that way and call it a church donation.  They can only give to the general scholarship fund and hope the scholarship committee who awards scholarships doesn't have to split it between too many kids ...

Same thing with other non-tax exempt causes; we had a couple of families at our church who took it upon themselves to rent a room for a local homeless man in town last winter.  If they had given the money to me as church treasurer and had me write the rent checks from the church, that sort of passthrough would not be allowed unless the congregation or a committee of the congregation charged with dispensing benevolence monies made that decision independent of the request of the givers (in which case they could specify the homeless fund in their giving).

The difference between buying paraments and giving those to the church v.s. giving money to the church in order to buy paraments is that the former is not tax-deductible and the latter is, because buying paraments in that case would be a congregational decision (supposedly) -- even if directed to do so, the church doesn't HAVE TO use that money for what is specified, but we all know there would be some 'splainin' to so if they accepted the money and didn't.  If you don't need or want new paraments , don't accept the donation that is specified for them.  In the case of a gift from a will that is specified, I would hope, unless the congregation is actively raising money for something specific at the time of the death, that the lawyer who drew up the will would advise against being so specific because in some cases it leaves the congregation in the uncomfortable position of having to refuse the gift because they can't or don't want to use it for what it was specified for.

Debbie Hesse

hillwilliam

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #321 on: September 12, 2008, 09:18:04 AM »
Nice explanation Debbie. It is obvious that the giver has some real consequences to deal with if s/he doesn't designate the donation properly. But what about congregations or synods. Are there any consequences for accepting money for Social Services (homeless, hospice, hunger, ombudsman, counseling, etc.) and using it for other purposes? I have seen what appears to me to be alternative uses of funds at the synod level. That is not even designated money, it is budgeted. That money came out of the tithe we pay to the synod. Funny, I don't remember the Apostles using the money donated to help the poor for other reasons. So what is apostolic about these seemingly arbitrary spending decisions by the Congregational and Synod Councils?

Layman Randy

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Re: Death of mainline protestantism
« Reply #322 on: September 12, 2008, 10:48:16 AM »
I am concerned about giving to congregations of "pass-through" funds by a member, often to avoid perceived potential for "mis-direction" by the congregation.
It is a form of "money laundering" that bothers me, and (again) is often not correctly accounted for by the congregations.  Some use this to justify their "tithe" while getting credit via their local congregation.  It is troubling to me.

Depending on what you are referring to here, exactly, it could even be illegal for a giver to do this and still take a charitable tax deduction.  I am treasurer of our congregation so I did some reading when I took on the task.

For instance, if you have a scholarship fund for college or high school kids --  people can donate specifically to the scholarship fund, but they have no say in who gets the money -- it has to be a congregational decision in order for the donation to be tax deductible to the giver.  If there are no congregational funds for scholarships this year, but someone wants to donate $1000 to go to  Sally so she can get a matching scholarship from her Lutheran college (many do this if it's a congregational scholarship), the giver can't direct it that way and call it a church donation.  They can only give to the general scholarship fund and hope the scholarship committee who awards scholarships doesn't have to split it between too many kids ...

Same thing with other non-tax exempt causes; we had a couple of families at our church who took it upon themselves to rent a room for a local homeless man in town last winter.  If they had given the money to me as church treasurer and had me write the rent checks from the church, that sort of passthrough would not be allowed unless the congregation or a committee of the congregation charged with dispensing benevolence monies made that decision independent of the request of the givers (in which case they could specify the homeless fund in their giving).

The difference between buying paraments and giving those to the church v.s. giving money to the church in order to buy paraments is that the former is not tax-deductible and the latter is, because buying paraments in that case would be a congregational decision (supposedly) -- even if directed to do so, the church doesn't HAVE TO use that money for what is specified, but we all know there would be some 'splainin' to so if they accepted the money and didn't.  If you don't need or want new paraments , don't accept the donation that is specified for them.  In the case of a gift from a will that is specified, I would hope, unless the congregation is actively raising money for something specific at the time of the death, that the lawyer who drew up the will would advise against being so specific because in some cases it leaves the congregation in the uncomfortable position of having to refuse the gift because they can't or don't want to use it for what it was specified for.

Debbie Hesse
Thanks for the great follow-up.  Although legal action against the church itself is seldom seen in these instances, the moral results of financial calumny have often wrecked havoc on congregations, mainstream or otherwise, resulting in internicine warfare and loss of focus on the Gospel.