Stop Tipping God !

Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine – Proverbs 3:9-10

So when a priest talks about money, that sets a lot of people riled up. “He should not be focusing on money”. Really? Is that the best defence we can put up to hide behind the truth about Church contributions? So let me make a case here “for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Let me begin by stating that cheerful giving must be a two-way street.  The Church must learn to give, especially to the poor and needy (not always the case), and the congregation must learn to give without judging. My little Church of St. Jude in Malad East has 799 congregants most of whom who are financially challenged, yet they give with a large heart. The monthly contribution to the community fund can vary between sixty thousand rupees to a lakh (a hundred thousand); that from people who care barely eke out a living!

When I first took over the Church, the response was anything but generous. We would beam with joy if the collection in the community fund even touched thirty thousand rupees. So we took a decision to break the trust deficit that is often in the minds of congregants; we decided to give first especially to the poor.

Ironically the Government of India demands that all charitable trusts spend eighty five percent of their annual income within that financial year. This makes sense at a very basic level, for a charitable trust does not exist to hoard money but spend it for what it has been established.

Learning to give first was not easy, but that’s when faith kicks in. As a priest I have to trust that God will provide for our every need, and to horde funds no matter how great the cause, makes poor sense in His eyes. It was in giving that we received, for today ninety percent of our working congregation contributes to the fund. The congregation is encouraged to give one per cent or simply one rupee to the community fund; but give they are encouraged to.

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