Obligated to Give?

Our congregation is conducting its annual stewardship drive. In the past my husband and I have given generously, but because of serious concerns about the direction the church and school are taking, we no longer feel we can support them. We have shared our concerns with several elders but nothing changes. Most of our offerings now go to other LCMS organizations. We would transfer, but our church is “home” to our children, and in two years we plan to relocate. Our question: Do we continue to give our offerings to other LCMS organizations, or are we obligated to give to our local church?

B.S., Calif.


Without knowing the specifics, it’s difficult to provide an answer. Sometimes concerns may be legitimate. At other times, concerns relating to the “direction” of a congregation or school may be a matter of personal judgment. Assuming the concerns involve issues that deal, not with taste or preference, but with teaching and faith, there several things to consider.

First, it’s important to remember that when we give our offerings, we are not giving them to institutions or individuals but to the Lord out of love for what He has done for us in Jesus Christ.

The fact that you have maintained your membership in the congregation suggests that while you may not agree with the direction of the church and school, the Gospel is still being proclaimed, or else, if possible, you would have changed your membership to a congregation in which that happens. Assuming that is the
case, it would be important to support that ministry, at least to some extent, as indicated is being done.

Second, the fact that there may be differences of opinion should take into consideration the reality that those who are called upon to make the financial decisions in the congregation also bear the responsibility for them. These would most likely be the congregation members themselves through the action of the voters assembly, or those whom the assembly has chosen to carry out that function. If they do not do so properly, that is not the fault of those who make the gifts, although they would have the responsibility to hold such persons accountable.

Finally, the decision regarding the size of a gift and the ministry to which it is given is that of the giver in loving response to Him who is the Ultimate Giver of all that we are and have.

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