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Financial FAQs

If I have never given, how should I start?

One of the fundamental truths we hold to as a church is that giving is an opportunity for worship. As believers, our lives should contain a tangible, physical expression that validates what we say we believe, and we believe the way a person handles money is the easiest way to trace the trajectory of their heart (Matt. 6:21). Giving is a way to honor God for all He has given you, acknowledging that if it were not for his provision in your life you would not have what you do.

For this reason, we would say that the person who has never given anything should simply start by giving something. Pray and ask for God’s guidance and wisdom to determine an appropriate response to what He has done in your life. Along with the apostle Paul we say, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully’” (2 Cor. 9:7).

Why make giving to the local church a priority?

In today’s world, there is certainly no shortage of different opportunities clamoring for Christians’ giving. Never before has there been such a variety of worthwhile charities, non-profits, and ministries appealing to believers for financial contributions and support. With so many potential outlets for financial benevolence, why should anyone make giving to the local church a high priority?

Biblical
From a biblical perspective, it is clear that giving to the local church should be a priority in giving because it is the primary context in which your spiritual life is nourished — namely, through the teaching of God’s Word:

Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. (Galatians 6:6)

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Tim. 5:17-18)

Spiritual growth and formation happen within the community of the church (Eph. 4:15- 16). It is the primary context that Jesus Christ has established for people to know and be known by one another, to care for one another’s needs and for the needs of those outside the church, and to represent Christ on the Earth (Eph. 5:29-33). Giving to the local church contributes directly to the only vehicle Jesus expressly ordained to carry out His mission in the world.

Effective
From a practical standpoint, no other ministry or parachurch organization offers greater impact potential than the local church — the local church stands alone as the most effective ministry investment available on Earth.

To be sure, there are many admirable and worthy causes outside the local church.

Various charities and organizations are able to effectively focus on one of any number of worthwhile causes: spreading the Gospel, supporting widows and orphans, feeding the hungry. Clamoring for financial support, they can offer the chance to further their cause, but not always the opportunity to go beyond a financial investment. They provide opportunity for your support financially, but not always a way to invest personally through service and personal involvement.

Comparatively, the local church casts a far wider ministry net than any single organization or non-profit. Rather than focusing on one or two isolated aspects of Christ’s mission, the cause of the local church encompasses a myriad of ministry opportunities in every category, all of which fall under the greater banner of Christ’s mission. Like a mutual fund, the local church serves as an outlet to a diversity of causes. Money given to Grace Church has far greater reach and return than it would if given to just one isolated piece of the mission. Giving to OneFund permeates and sustains various ministry opportunities both local and abroad, like empowering orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya, supporting short-term missions trips in Allendale, and equipping the next generation of church leaders.

Giving to the local church is not just one good option among many — it is far and away the most effectual for the cause of Christ in the world.

What does Grace Church think about the tithing?

For most people determining whether to give financially to a local church (and if so, how much), tithing is one of the first questions raised. The word “tithe” simply means “tenth,” and in the Bible the practice of tithing constitutes giving one-tenth of one’s earnings back to God as a tribute, expressing gratitude for His provision and faithfulness. Scripture first describes the tithe in the life of Abraham (Gen. 14:20; 28:22) before it was ultimately incorporated as part of the law (Lev. 27:30-32; Num. 18:21-28; Deut. 12:5-19, 14:22-29, 26:1-19). Under that law, the 10% tithe on an individual’s harvest and flock was just one part of a larger system of diverse giving requirements applied to Israel. But how does this long-held tradition of the Israelite nation relate to the way modern-day Christians are instructed to give?

Other than a description of Abraham’s initial tithe to Melchizedek (Heb. 7:3-10) and a brief mention in a parable (Luke 18:12), the tithe is only addressed in the New Testament in two parallel Gospel passages (Matt. 23:23; Luke 11:42). And in both instances, while the tithe is not directly commanded of believers, it is assumed as a baseline for giving.

At Grace Church, while we do not believe that people are strictly bound to giving 10% of their income to the local church, we do believe that the New Testament assumes such a level of giving as an appropriate baseline for financial giving.

What is Grace Church's stance on debt?

Debt is not inherently right or wrong. As a matter of fact, we should not even think in terms of debt being right or wrong, but rather we should consider debt in terms of it being wise or unwise. Debt is not just a theological issue, and not just a management issue, but a combination of both. However, the Bible gives solid advice related to borrowing, lending, saving, planning, giving, and repayment (Prov. 24:3-4, 27:23-24, 30:25) and matters related to debt (Ex. 22:14-15; Deut. 15:2-3; 24:10-11, Ez. 18:7-8,16, 33:15). Debt is not described as sinful or disobedient to God in the Bible. However, poorly planned debt can be stifling to a church and its attempt to meet ministry needs.

Grace Church leadership has followed several principles related to the utilization of debt:

  • Debt should not be utilized for regular ongoing operations.
  • Debt could be utilized for ministry expansion.
  • Debt could be utilized for capital purchases and campus expansion such as the construction of the new Powdersville campus or the purchase and renovation of the Harrison Bridge Campus.
  • The utilization of regular giving is the preferred method of payment.
  • Excess cash reserves should be utilized for debt reduction once self imposed or
    bank imposed cash reserve requirements are satisfied.
  • Debt should be managed within the operating budget of the church.
  • Debt reduction should be an integral part of the budgeting process and cash flow management. Debt payments as well as all spending should be reviewed
    continually.
  • Debt service should not exceed 15 percent of the total annual budget.

How do you determine what to spend on missions?

Missions or outreach at Grace Church falls under the classification of Culturally Engaged, which is one of six areas of emphasis or core values. The determination of the amount of financial resources to allocate to missions and outreach is a function of ministry needs in conjunction with our local, regional, and international church partners. The mission of Cultural Engaged at Grace Church is to grow the local church here and around the world by proclaiming the Gospel, investing in strategic relationships, and equipping people for a life of service that glorifies God. The Elders and Leadership Team, through the budgeting process, survey our church partners including our church staff and volunteers to determine ministry needs. The percentage of Grace’s annual budget allocated for missions and outreach is not a fixed amount year to year. As stated in the two-year One Fund budget ending June 30, 2016, total Culturally Engaged expenditures is estimated at $1,800,000 or 9.6% of total expenditures.

How does Grace Church determine compensation for pastors?

Pastor compensation is determined from key metrics monitored by Grace Church’s Human Resources Department in consultation with Leadership Team. These metrics are derived from peer churches in our area and region as well as from membership organizations such as Leadership Network assisting churches in issues such as compensation. In addition to these monitored metrics, experience and job responsibilities are considered in determining pastor compensation. Grace Church strives to provide a fair level of support for all of its employees. This support includes salary and other benefits including health care and retirement.

Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!” (1 Tim. 5:17-18)

Does Grace Church have audited financial statements and are they available?

For more than 15 years, an independent external auditor has been engaged to review the financial numbers, reports, and procedures of Grace Church. As in each year, the most recent audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016 reported sound practices related to the financial reports of Grace Church. If you would like to receive an electronic copy of Grace Church Financial Audit 2016, email finance@gracechurchsc.org