the weblog of Alan Knox

Church Life #9 – Money

Posted by on Nov 4, 2009 in church life, community, fellowship | 17 comments

This series is about our life with the church as we attempt to live together as brothers and sisters. (For a more detailed description of this series, see my post “Church Life – A New Series.”)

The way that a person handles money says alot about their priorities. This is true for a group of people as well, including a church.

When we started meeting together several years ago, we handled money the way that most church organizations handle money. Everyone that was part of the church was asked to “give” through the church. The church created a budget that covered administrative costs, meeting locations costs, and ministry opportunities.

Over time, we found that our budget was directing our ability to serve more than the Spirit or the opportunities that God gave us was directing our service. So, a few years ago, we completely changed how we handle money.

To begin with, we still have a budget. Why? Because we have made certain corporate decisions as a group. For example, we’ve decided as a group to rent a place to meet. If we made the decision not to rent a place to meet and to forgo a few other administrative responsibilities, then I could see the possibility of having no corporate budget. But, at this time, we do have a budget.

So, since we have a budget, we still ask people to give to cover that budget. How much is that budget? Well, if you divide the budget between the people who meet together weekly, it amounts to less that $20 per person per month. That’s what we ask people to give “to the church” in order to cover corporate responsibilities.

Beyond this, we do not ask people to give money “to the church” – that is, to the church organization. However, we often ask people to give “to the church” – that is, to the people.

What do I mean? I mean that there are often needs or emergencies that come up among the believers that make up the church. The people involved have opportunities to let others know about their needs, and their brothers and sisters can then give to those needs, usually giving directly to the person or family in need.

Similarly, we often have service related needs. Again, when the church (that is, the people) are aware of those needs, they have the opportunity to give money, time, or other resources in order to help with those service needs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we are individualistic about the way we handle money. In fact, we often work together to take care of financial needs.

A couple that is part of our church is planning to move to Africa to work in Bible translation. Last Summer, they traveled to Africa for several weeks to work with the group that’s there and to learn more about what they will be doing in the future. They told the church about their financial needs for this trip, and the church helped them. How did this help come to them? It usually came from different families giving directly to this couple, as each family was able to give. Some gave more; some gave less. But, together, we helped this couple travel to Africa.

Several of us are praying about traveling to Ethiopia next Summer to work with the churches there. None of us can afford this trip on our own. But, when the church decides to send one or more of us on this trip, then the church will again take the responsibility of providing for their needs. How? Again, by each family giving as they are able.

We’ve found that by freeing people’s money from the constraints of an organizational budget, we are actually able to provide for more immediate needs as well as for larger and more long-term needs.

All in all, handling money in this way has helped us as we attempt to live life together as the church of Jesus Christ.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 11-4-2009

    Good, timely, and thought-provoking post. A picture (or an example, in this case) is worth a thousand sermons.

  2. 11-4-2009

    Interesting. We made a decision to give away 50% of whatever gifts we receive. We give that money to individuals and to other organizations we believe in (Young Life). The problem I see coming is that I don’t have anything to do with the other 50%! We are just holding it and covering our incidental expenses. We are not charged for rent…but I don’t know how long that will last so we are anticipating some of that.

    We got 50% from our study of Zacchaeus.

  3. 11-4-2009


    I like examples also. 🙂


    You said, “I don’t have anything to do with the other 50%!” Are you talking about you personally or you corporately? Personally, we let God direct our giving to others based on opportunities that he gives us. Corporately, we hope that people will keep that money to use it as God directs them. In other words, we don’t people to give all their money “to the church” which then means “the church” has to decide what to do with it.


  4. 11-4-2009

    Just out of curiosity. Is your organization a 501-C3 or something like that? Most churches (that I know of) are housed in non-profit organizations and people are always giving through the church in order to get the tax benefits.

    I’m not too impressed with the tax-benefit strategy, but I’ve never made enough money for it to matter for me.

    Do your church members give through the church to get a tax break? If so, aren’t there some laws that a person can’t dictate exactly where the money be spent, but rather it has to be at the discretion of the organization? ( I think that is to prevent money laundering of some sort)

    Okay too many questions. Great blog post. Bye

  5. 11-4-2009

    CORPORATELY not personally.

    I never ask ppl to give anything. In fact, we are very clear that you don’t have to give a dime. I am also clear that if anyone gives, we are committed as a body to give 50% away. I really expect we will just start giving it all away except for our incidental expenses. We are so new that people still look to me to make decisions and I have to continually push back.

    Now, here’s the kicker…some people give for reasons (tax deduction) other than a desire to bless others. In other words, they want to give something away but want the tax credit in return. I don’t like that, and I only suspect it…but I expect its a reality in more places than just our little group.

  6. 11-4-2009


    “…any church is recognized under 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code as a charitable organization.”

    Not true!

    (It’s actually 508(c)(1)(A) and 170(c)(2)(B).)


  7. 11-4-2009


    Thanks for the info. 🙂


  8. 11-4-2009

    So what happens to money given in excess of $20 per month?
    How much money go to the local association, and the state and national conventions?

  9. 11-4-2009

    Jonathan (talloaf),

    Since we’ve agreed as a group to be part of the SBC, we give a small amount (whatever is required) to the SBC. We have other admin costs, and we pay for paper plates/napkins/etc for meals. Usually the church decides how to spend “extra” money.


  10. 11-5-2009

    Alan and Stephen,

    I served as a deacon for several years in an “institutional” church, and one of my resposibilities was to count the “offering” and divide it into the different budget categories. From personal experience, my advice is to stay as far as possible from any government or IRS interaction. Do not file any paperwork, do not become a non-profit corporation. Also, I would reject in the name of Christ ANY imputed status from the IRS, and teach your congregation that no tax deductions will be recognized through giving. Caesar has no place whatsoever in the church. None, zero, nada, nil, zilch.

    The extent to which Christian consciences can be corrupted by “church business as usual” – even unintentionally – is simply amazing. Giving to take a tax deduction is a poison that can really harm a church community. My $0.02.

  11. 11-5-2009


    I agree with your last paragraph/sentence. The reason being is that when I have reached my threshold of giving I turn the person over to the “church” and you and I both know the bureaucracy and red tape you have to cut through to get needs met immediately. This is an inherent danger. Alan actually talked a little bit about giving to organizations what do you think about those guys Scott?

  12. 11-5-2009

    I was wondering… If giving for the sake of getting a tax deduction is a wrong motive (and I would totally agree that it is…) then what is the purpose of filing as a non-profit in the first place?

    If the amount of giving to the church as an “entity” really breaks down to only about 20 bucks a person per month, then why would there be any need to file? Shouldn’t it be about as straight-forward as something like splitting the bill at a restaurant, or a bunch of people going in together to buy a gift? Don’t people (Christians or not) collectively pool their money all the time (and sometimes to much larger amounts) without having to file with the IRS?

    I’m with Steve Scott… Is the Body of Christ just another “charitable organization”, or are we something far greater, people who are actually indwelt by the Living Spirit of God?

  13. 11-5-2009

    Steve Scott,

    The state doesn’t have any say in what we do as a church. We don’t file any paperwork with the state.


    We don’t file anything with the IRS.


  14. 11-5-2009


    To hear somebody say that in this day and age is rare indeed.

  15. 11-6-2009

    I thought any legal entity with a bank account had to file at least some paper work. What internet resources could anyone point to that could address the legal issues of funds received in churches.

    2nd BIG question. To affiliate with SBC, do you have to jump through any restrictive legal hoops?

  16. 11-6-2009


    I think paperwork is required for identification purposes. Otherwise, from what I understand, most paperwork is only necessary is that entity pays someone.

    To affiliate with the SBC is a fairly simple thing. Look at Article III of the SBC constitution. There are many house churches that affiliate with the SBC.