In most churches around the world, during the service at some point, a collection basket is passed. Some churches have collection baskets in the back lobby, some pass them from person to person. But just about every church does this.
My point in writing this is not to argue the need for people to contribute. That’s pointed out in Scripture pretty clearly in my opinion.
I want to help you realize what your contribution dollars go toward. What happens when you put that check in the basket?
1. Salaries – Okay, let’s get this one out of the way. Yes, your contribution dollars go to pay the salaries of people on staff. You’ll probably be contributing toward the salary of a main pastor/preacher, an associate (who could have a plethora of various titles), a youth or student minister, an administrative assistant or two, and some sort of custodial staff. You also may be contributing toward the salaries of missionaries or other various people the church has agreed to support.
Understand this – no two preachers/pastors are paid the same way. They all are paid differently. Oftentimes within the same office! Some ministers get paid just a straight salary with no benefits whatsoever, so if you think your minister is getting paid too much, remember, they pay their own taxes, health insurance, and retirement out of that. Some ministers get various packages including health insurance, or matching retirement, or other things.
2. Building – It costs money to maintain a building. Things need to be taken care of. Bills have to be paid. Insurance has to bought. If you don’t stay on top of building maintenance, it can all come due at one point. Maybe your church building has multiple Heating/Air units. Often these units seem to fail all at the same time, costing $20K-40K each to replace. If your church budget is $10K a week, it could take an entire month’s worth of contribution to fix this. Therefore, it would be smart for churches to save money in an emergency fund of some sorts for situations just like this.
Buildings also have to be updated. Windows have to be replaced. Roofs have to be replaced. Parking lots have to be paved. All of these things cost money.
On top of that – look at the bills associated with using the building. Your electric bill at home may average between $100-400 a month depending on where you live. But for your church building, it could run upwards of $2500-4000 a month! It sure is nice to have that AC running when you come in on Sunday morning in the summers.
Many church buildings have baptistries. These are like having a small hot tub in your home. Electricity is needed to heat them. Chemicals needed to treat them.
And, if your church has a kitchen, those aren’t cheap either! What a blessing to have fellowship meals and share with each other, but stoves, refrigerators, sinks, and utensils are needed.
3. Don’t forget about the children! If you want to provide a quality education system for your children and teenagers, its going to cost money. Crayons, markers, paper, scissors, glue – these items don’t just show up. They cost money. Also, most churches either pay for curriculum, or use a free curriculum and spend just as much on gathering supplies for the classes.
Then you have things like Vacation Bible School. Paying for extra snacks, crafts, and other items is not cheap.
Sadly, there are many churches that spend very little on their children’s education fund. They skimp on supplies, curriculum, and activities for them, and wonder why their children’s program isn’t growing. You have to put money into it. No, you don’t have to put a ton of cash into it, but do you really want your church to skimp on the children?
4. Software/Computers/Electronics – I’m so grateful that I live in a day and age where I can worship by looking at a screen that projects the words and notes for my convenience. I’m so happy to be able to use powerpoint/keynote while I preach to be able to better teach. These can’t be used if you don’t have projectors. If you want them to be effective they have to be good projectors. And of course the projectors are useless unless you have the computers. And guess what? These all cost money!
And not just that – its great to be able to hear our members when they lead prayers, lead songs, lead worship, read scriptures, etc. You’re able to because you have microphones! And these microphones have to have amps, wires, mixers, etc. to run them.
Many of the programs we use have to be updated, or renewed, on a yearly basis.
And if your church has a website, well, they aren’t free either. But its a lot cheaper than those old telephone book ads!
5. Benevolence – Most churches have some sort of benevolence program. Some of you may not realize that your church often helps members with problems that may arise in their lives. The occasional gift card to a local gas station or grocery store is given to walk ups throughout the week.
6. Outreach – These days, visitors (and members) expect things to look as professional as they can. You want to put your best foot forward when you look at reaching out to the community.
Because of that, we have bulletins, pamphlets, brochures, cards, and pens to hand out to people when they come in the building. But what about getting them in the building? You may have a sign outside your building, but you and I know that’s not enough.
We tend to take out ads to promote our churches. Radio spots, internet advertising, mail outs, and other various methods of outreach are wonderful, but they take money as well.
7. Transportation – You have people, they need to get places. Those youth trips need a bus. Those senior saints outings need a van. Monthly maintenance, gas, oil, tags, insurance are needed.
8. Future planning – We’ve already sort of alluded to this, but I think its worth having a category in and of itself. Most churches I know of would like to grow. When you grow, you have to be able to do so. New things must be purchased in order for growth to occur. A smart congregation will be aware of this and plan ahead for this.
For example, if you’re ordering books for a class, you would be smart to order 15 books, even if you’re only planning on having 12 people. Why? Because you plan on the class growing.
Whether you want your current church family to grow, or whether you want to grow by planting elsewhere, you need to plan for that growth.
There are many things not mentioned here that the contribution goes to help with, but I think you get the idea. Churches depend on the contribution of their members.
What have I missed? What else does your contribution help with?