Ten percent! That is how much Park Hill Christian Church gives away from its income every year. Ten percent! Out of the income PHCC receives from its members—both pledged and unpledged giving—it gives away ten percent. Ten cents of every dollar you give to this church goes to change lives around the corner and around the world. Ten percent!
This is a big deal. PHCC’s commitment to this ten percent principle is to be commended and celebrated. Giving away ten percent is not the norm these days, and it is becoming rarer every day. For many church folks, giving away ten percent of a church’s income is bad economics. Maybe it is when measured by secular economic standards, but it makes perfect sense when it comes to the economics of the Kingdom of God.
Just this morning I read about a new study of churches in 2019 which showed more churches are closing than are being started. The article surveyed 34 denominations and groups, and it revealed around 4500 churches closed in 2019 but only 3000 new churches were started. This was before the COVID pandemic. A mindset of scarcity exists in today’s churches because of these trends. Such a perspective may be understandable, but it is not the mindset of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ words about bearing the cross in Matthew 16 apply to congregations and not only individuals:
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?
What good does it do a church if in order to “survive” it stops exhibiting the generosity and sacrifice modelled by Christ? Is a church even a church if it stops being Christlike?
Here is how I’ve seen the scarcity mindset in action in congregations. Income goes down, so the first thing to be cut is outreach to the community and the world outside the church. This move effectively turns the church’s attention away from ministry outside the church walls and toward selfishness and survival at any cost. This turn to self-centeredness and loss of focus on the church’s mission creates less incentive for members to give, so income continues to fall. The next step is to cut staff and programs. This move causes members to become dissatisfied and give even less. Finally, the building begins to fall apart because needed maintenance is put off. Eventually, the building cannot be sustained and since there is no ministry going on inside or outside of it nobody cares.
Seen in this light, a congregation’s giving to groups and ministries outside its church walls has everything to do with a church’s vitality. In the terms of the Kingdom of God, the more a church gives away what it has then the more it will receive in return. Only by refusing to get in a scarcity mindset that focuses on survival can a church actually survive. The less a church thinks about survival and the more a church focuses on giving and mission then the more vital and alive it is.
Just this month, PHCC’s Outreach committee gave away ten percent of the money you gave last month to the following worthy groups:
$900 to the Disciples Mission Fund—ministry locally, nationally and internationally by the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, “A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world”
$500 to SPEAC (Southern Platte Emergency Assistance Center)—feeding hundreds of families who suffer from food insecurity in southern Platte County
$200 to Fuller Center for Housing of Greater KC—building homes for homeless families in our area
$200 to the Regional Youth Council—the youth leaders of the Greater Kansas City Disciples of Christ (PHCC’s own Virginia Fullerton serves on it) will use these funds to buy needed supplies for youth camp this summer at Tall Oaks Conference Center
This is Kingdom economics at its best! As I said, ten percent is awesome and it is way more than most churches give to ministry outside their church walls, but there is no reason to set our standards by comparing them to others giving less. Our example of living is Jesus Christ who gave everything for us, so why stop at ten percent? Jesus promises us that the more we “lose” of our fear-based focus on survival then the more we “gain” of the joy that comes from a Christ-centered life. This truth applies to our own individual lives and our life together as a church!
Grace and Peace,
Rev. Chase Peeples
We're Park Hill Christian Church in KC MO. We seek to follow Jesus by praising God, loving those we meet and serving the vulnerable.
6601 Northwest 72nd Street, Kansas City, MO 64151 | 816-741-1851