The Scriptural Basis for giving to the Church.

To Whom Do We Give?
When the Christian gives, he may give to individuals or to the church, but in the final analysis in doing so he is giving to God (see Proverbs 19:17; Matthew 6:2-4; 22:17-21; Acts 5:4; Romans 14:4-8; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Colossians 3:22-25).

Who Should Give?
Only those who have been united with Christ and His church by personal faith in Jesus Christ should give to the people of God and the work of God. In the Bible, every command or exhortation to give is addressed to believers. Taking funds from unbelievers is prohibited (3 John 7; see also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Why Should God's People Give?

In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Haggai 1:1-11; Malachi 3:7-12) and in the New (Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10; Hebrews 13:16; 1 John 3:17), the people of God are commanded to give for certain needs. Failing to give for such causes when one is able is therefore an act of disobedience. Not all giving is required, however (see Leviticus 7:16; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15).

The churches of Macedonia were models of generosity in giving, even though they were poor. They gladly gave out of gratitude toward God and love for their brethren (2 Corinthians 8 and 9; see especially 8:4, 9). Paul reminds us of Jesus' teaching that "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).

Very often Jesus spoke of the stewardship of His people in terms of money (see Luke 16:1-13). Our faithfulness as stewards in this "little thing" of money has a bearing on what other (and greater) responsibilities we will be given (see Luke 16:9-12).

The Old Testament saints could only approach God in worship with a sacrifice, and this sacrifice was a contribution, whether whole or in part. In the New Testament, contributions were also described as sacrifices offered up in worship (see Hebrews 9:1-10; 10:1-25; 13:10-16).
No offering is taken during the teaching hour. This is so that unbelievers will not feel obligated to give, or think that their giving would contribute to their salvation. Unbelievers do not need to give to God, but to receive the gift of salvation which He offers to them in Jesus Christ. The offering is taken during the worship time, after the Lord's Supper, to encourage the saints to give as an act of worship.

Jesus encouraged believers to give in order to "lay up treasure in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-21). Investing earthly money in the advancement of the kingdom of God is one way in which we can lay up spiritual treasure in heaven (see Luke 16:1-13).

All Christian service should be a sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). In giving, we should not seek man's praise, but God's (Matthew 6:2-4). We should not give with the hope of getting ahead in this life, but with the faith that God will reward us in heaven (Luke 14:12-14). We should not give under pressure, but willingly and cheerfully, with gratitude for God's grace to us, according to our ability (2 Corinthians 8 and 9).

Giving is an expression of brotherly love and of Christian unity. The principle is set down in texts such as Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 3:11; Romans 12:13; James 2:15-17 and 1 John 3:15-18. The practice of this principle is seen in Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35; 11:27-30; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Philippians 4:14-19.

For What Did God's People Give?
In the Old Testament, the Israelites gave for the construction of the temple and for the on-going maintenance of its worship and ministry (Exodus 25:1-9; 35:4-9; 2 Kings 12:4-16; 1 Chronicles 29:1-17; Matthew 17:24-27). They also gave to the poor and needy (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Mark 10:21; Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35; 11:27-30; Romans 12:13; 2 Corinthians 8 and 9; Galatians 2:10). Old and New Testament saints also gave in remuneration for ministry which they received (see Numbers 18; Luke 10:1-9; Galatians 6:6; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14). They supported those who ministered to others (Luke 8:1-3; Acts 18:5; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Philippians 4:14-19; 2 John 7-11; 3 John 5-8). There was also ministry to those who were suffering and in need (even imprisoned) for the sake of the gospel (Matthew 25:35-40; Philippians 2:25-30; Hebrews 13:3).

How Much Should God's People Give?
In one sense, God's people are to give everything to God (Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:15; 12:33; 14:33). One's loyalty and devotion cannot be shared between God and material possessions (Matthew 6:24). In another sense, we recognize that we really own nothing, that all things belongs to God and we are stewards of them. We may have possessions, but we are not to be possessive (1 Corinthians 7:30). From Acts (2:44-45; 4:32-35; 12:12) we conclude that the early Christians did not claim anything as their own, but neither did they sell everything they possessed. They would, from time to time, sell what they did not need to meet the needs of others, as needs arose. Paul makes it clear that people should give only what they have to give (2 Corinthians 8:12), and this according to one's ability and according to what he or she has purposed to give (2 Corinthians 8:3, 10-14).

What Can God's People Give?
We tend to think primarily of money when we speak of gifts or contributions. Certainly money is one form of contribution to God's people and His work. But in addition to money, other possessions may be given. For example, the materials necessary for the construction of the Tabernacle were donated (see Exodus 25:1-8). Food and clothing may be shared with those in need (Luke 3:11). Another form of contribution is that of labor (see Exodus 35:30--36:5; Philippians 2:25-30; Hebrews 13:16 ["doing good"]).

How Were Monies Obtained?
One can hardly use the term "solicitation" when referring to the scriptural teaching and practice of obtaining contributions. Giving is often spontaneous, though some obligations are set down as commands (see Galatians 6:6). Jesus never solicited funds for His personal support or ministry. In fact, when He urged people to give up their money, He instructed them to give to the poor, not to give to Him or to His ministry. There were a faithful few who sustained our Lord and His followers (Luke 8:1-3). The same seems to be true of Paul, who often labored with his own hands in order to minister physically and financially to others (see Acts 20:33-35; 1 Corinthians 9:3-14; 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9). The Christian should never willingly become an unnecessary burden to the church (Galatians 6:4-5; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-15), and the family should be the first to minister to their own in times of need (1 Timothy 5:3-8). In the New Testament church, the needs of others were made known, and people were encouraged to meet these needs (see Acts 11:27-30; Romans 12:13). The normal pattern is that we should work to meet our own needs, as well as the needs of others (Acts 20:33-35; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; Ephesians 4:28). It would seem from our Lord's strong reaction to the abuse of the temple in His day that profit-making efforts ought not to be carried out in the church (Matthew 21:12-17). Funds to carry on the work of God were not solicited from unbelievers (3 John 7-8). We should therefore avoid any fund-raising from those whose spiritual condition is unclear or from those we know to be unsaved.

How Were Contributions Handled and Disbursed?
Not all ministry with money or goods was carried on through the church. In the Old Testament, corners of the field were not harvested, and other gleanings were left for the poor (Leviticus 19:9-10). In the New Testament we also see that some giving was done privately, such as through the family (see 1 Timothy 5:4). Paul was meticulous concerning the way in which monies were collected and distributed so that no allegation of impropriety would arise. There was great effort made to assure donors that the monies given were used for the purposes for which it was contributed. Paul sought to maintain a good testimony, not only before the church but also before all men (see 2 Corinthians 8:20-21). Peter's example in dealing with the deception of Ananias and Sapphira indicates that church leadership must require, as much as possible, that the donors be absolutely honest and forthright in their contributions (see Acts 5:1-6).