Why should a church give money to an association? And why does the church pay both the association and the union?
I’m asked these two questions a lot. And they’re good questions especially with money being so tight at the moment. So why pay an association and why pay both the association and the union?
Firstly, note the biblical example.
Paul asked the churches to support the church in Jerusalem and added “But as you excel in everything… see that you excel in this act of grace too” (2 Cor 8:7). Note also the attitude of the churches who even begged “for the favour of taking part in the relief of the saints” (2 Cor 8:4). Paul’s motivation is that we follow Jesus who “became poor so that you, by his poverty, might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). So when churches ask, “what do we get for what we pay?” the first answer is “Christlikeness.”
Secondly, what is your money used for?
The money is used for two things; an administrative membership fee and above that, a help to other churches.
Membership fee: Churches have agreed together to give a membership fee and agreed that this should be R800 per annum. This does not fully meet the bill of all that we do and hence we encourage churches to go beyond this, if possible (see below). This membership fee is the minimum requirement of all member churches.
Over and above: The member churches of the association have agreed to assist needy Baptist churches and pastors. And the bulk of the funds gathered are used to do this. Our churches also agreed on 10 November 2014 to call and financially support an ‘Area Co-ordinator’ who is paid to assist churches according to the aims of the association summarised here and fully stated here. So the co-ordinator’s salary and car and fuel are paid from the income by member church’s ‘over and above’ giving. Nor does the co-ordinator always do the work himself but points to available member churches, pastors and partners, who can assist with the specific needs of a congregation. Money is also made available to churches and pastor’s based on assessed needs.
Thirdly, why do churches pay both the association and the union?
The easy answer is that the money that goes to the association goes to the ministry costs among the churches while the money that goes to the union, goes to the administrative costs of the churches. Historically a number of departments were initiated by past assemblies to serve specific needs of the churches; theological training of prospective pastors, missions, women, men, education, printing, Sunday School and youth. These have all become self-funded, some have since closed and some have become independent or serve a wider constituency than merely Baptist churches. Those that remain generally make appeals directly to the churches and so it is easy for a church to feel ‘financially taxed’ by a number of appeals. This has been greatly debated and is yet to be resolved. So a church needs to enquire closely as to how financial support is being utilised in order to be good stewards of that which God has entrusted to them. For this reason, the BNA seeks to be transparent with our finances and all income and expenditure are reported at every BNA Members Meeting (see dates here). We are also blessed to have a gifted Treasurer and auditors duly appointed at our member meetings.
Finally, some practical aspects of giving
- When giving to the BNA or any organisation, ensure you make the deposit your giving into the right account. This may sound like a stupid point but you would simply not believe how many times things go wrong (okay, maybe you would). As described above, each department, colleges, union and association have different bank accounts, so pay the right one. Our banking details are found here and are not the same as the Baptist Union’s.
- Attend the meetings of the entity to see how the money from your church is being used. We are to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. This means money is not given without some form of accountability.
- Make a direct deposit into a bank account from a bank account – don’t deposit cash. Many people don’t know that the bank charges on cash (which the receiver pays) are far steeper than an EFT so, in order to benefit the beneficiary maximally, make a bank deposit from account to account and don’t deposit cash.
- Don’t shortchange your pastor to meet the needs of others. This needs to be said. A church’s first responsibility is to meet the needs (not wants) of their appointed pastor and staff. A church’s eldership keeps watch over your souls “with joy and not with groaning” (Heb 13:17) and when they do watch with joy, this will be an advantage to the local church.
- Be generous. The “righteous are generous” (Ps 37:21) and “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Cor 9:6). So follow God in graciousness.
- Attitude is crucial. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor 9:7) so give “not reluctantly or under compulsion” (2 Cor 9:7). God looks at both the amount and the heart of the giver.
- Proportions. How much should the church give to the association and to the union? The assembly of churches that met in October 2016 and agreed to this split (if memory serves) which comes as a recommendation to the local church, not a command;
- 50% of your gift to the BUSA
- 40% of your gift to your area association, in our case, the BNA.
- 10% to your Baptist college (either BTC or CTBS).