doesn’t always derail giving
By Dan Kersten
The United States’
economy was strong during much of the 1990s. But in the past
five years the financial boom has given way to hard times
for many people. Unemployment, terrorism, corporate scandals
and increased consumer debt have caused many Americans to
tighten their purse strings when it comes to giving to nonprofits,
including their churches.
have had to slash their operational expenses by laying off
workers and cutting programs and services. Even so, many Christian
leaders, laypeople and financial experts say lean times can
be beneficial because believers press deeper in their faith.
hardship could simply be a time of testing of faith to determine
what someone would do or not do,” says Gerald Waite,
senior pastor of Faith Assembly in Arlington, Texas. “Some
people are at a place in their experiences with God where
they have complete trust in Him. So they keep on giving.”
Marvin and Polly
Wier, members at Waite’s church, agree.
ago, Marvin, 53, lost his job at a computer company after
it downsized. “I was stunned,” says Wier, who
had 30 years in the industry and now works two jobs to make
ends meet. Despite the family’s current financial situation
they have remained faithful in their giving.
raised to always give at least 10 percent of all income before
any bills were paid,” Wier says. “It just wouldn’t
work for us if we didn’t continue to do as we were taught
and have practiced.”
The Wiers aren’t
typical church members, according to “The State of Church
Giving through 2000,” a study identifying trends in
church giving by empty tomb, a Champaign, Ill.-based Christian
service and research organization. The report indicates that
church members only gave 2.6 percent of their income in 2000.
“I am sure
all ministries are concerned in these uncertain times,”
says Benny Ferguson, national coordinator for Light for the
Lost. “However, our confidence is in the provision of
the Lord, not in America’s economy.”
Lee Watson, vice
president of the Assemblies of God Foundation, a division
of A/G Financial Services Group, says believers can practice
good stewardship before times get tough so that they will
be able to survive and even continue giving.
we should always have a lifestyle that enables us to live
on less than our income so that we can be consistent, generous
givers,” Watson says.
Marvin and Polly
Wier live by that philosophy. “It’s God’s
money, not ours,” Polly says. “We maintain the
faith that God will provide for us. He has faithfully blessed
us through 28 years of marriage and we see no reason to doubt