All posts tagged: Giving

German citizens pay a ‘church tax’

Premier Christian News reports on an interesting story out of Germany about thousands of people leaving their faith because of the country’s ‘church tax.’ Germany is one of a handful of countries in the world, including Austria, Denmark, and Italy, that imposes a ‘worship’ or ‘church’ tax on its citizens. It is a form of income tax and depending on where a person lives, the tax can range from 8% of income in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to 9% in the remaining states. Since it was first implemented in 1919, German citizens pay the tax if they are registered as a member of a protestant and Catholic Church or as a member of the Jewish faith. This also includes anyone who has been christened or married in a German church. Churches, including Evangelical, can then apply to receive funding from the ‘worship tax’ and those eligible typically receive about 70% of their income from the state’s church tax. According to, in 2020, the German government paid out 12.1 billion Euros to protestant and Catholic churches. …

Bread or Bruises?

Yesterday afternoon I drove around a rougher area of town giving out bread. It’s just something my wife and I do whenever Lighthouse Ministries has more bread donated than we need. Usually people are happy to see me and only take what they need. No trouble, just happy faces. Yesterday, this streak of beauty came to a screeching halt. While a woman with three kids was choosing her bread, a big man came strolling the street. I asked him if he wanted bread. He said “I’m a bad guy.” Now I am somewhat familiar with bad guys, I even taught a group of federal parolees once and I worked at a federal penitentiary.  Not to mention living in one of the most violent neighborhoods in Canada. Most bad guys don’t have to say they are bad. Maybe I should have been nervous. ‘I don’t care if you’re a bad guy,” I responded, “Do you want some bread?” His response was not what I expected. He stopped and started towards me and threatened that he was …

Credit: EBCanon/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 3

Here is one of the best secrets for managing your generosity and giving of money: Don’t. If you spend any time among religious people, you will be asked for money. When I go to church on Sunday, there is always an offering, a time when all other business stops and the ushers collect money from us. I have lived with this all my life and I have an acquired immunity, but some people who come with me are offended and disoriented. What will God think about them if they don’t give enough? So, don’t give. The exercise will be good for you. Yesterday I was walking in the mall. It’s not really my place but I had a meeting with someone. At an intersection in the walkways, I saw a display booth with two young women looking hopeful. They represented one of those Christian charities that sponsor children and they were looking for sponsors. I won’t name the organization, but there are several and they do very good work. What bothered me was all the …

Credit: Bernard Forand/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 2

Did you know that you are lazy? And me too, I can be included in that number. The basic nature of the human race is to always look for the easy way out, the softest cushion. We all have that affliction from childhood, and if you have learned to work hard, congratulations for resisting. Have you noticed how words like ‘luxury’ go with words like ‘ease’ and ‘relax?’ We don’t earn, we don’t learn, and we don’t manage, if we can find the couch first. That monster lives in all of us somewhere. The popular picture of success is doing nothing like some ancient European aristocrat supported by an army of serfs, and not a brave person climbing mount Everest with a gritty expression on their face. Did you also know that your life is a project, your family is a business and your church is a consortium? Everything requires diligent management. According to the Bible: “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6) If ants could speak to …

Church in rural England Credit: Peter Smithson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Your Money and the Church – Part 1

No one likes their first job, or at least we can complain about it later, when we learn how the world really works. I have my own horror story. Just when I turned 18, almost on my birthday, I started my first real job. I left high school early and started working in January, in a cold winter, with short days and not much sunlight. I was hired to drive a small truck for a parts department in a shop that repaired construction equipment. Every morning I got up early, ate something in a bowl, and hurried to a bus stop. The bus took me to a remote suburb, and then I walked several blocks and crossed a busy road into an industrial area, and after more walking, I hurried into my workplace to punch the time clock. Then I did janitorial work and drove the truck when ordered, and I hardly knew how to drive. Travel to and from work, on the bus, was in darkness for weeks, and the weather was severely cold. …

A sacrificial gift of 18 cents

“Please don’t be mad I don’t have much. I’m homeless. God bless.” [by Dean Smith] These were the words of a short note written on an offering envelope containing an 18 cent donation deposited in the offering plate at the First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, during a recent Sunday service. Charlotte has a bustling financial center. Bank of America is headquartered there, as is Well Fargo’s east coast headquarters. Located downtown, the church is near the financial district, but is also near a homeless shelter. It is not uncommon for a few homeless people to attend services as the church provides a breakfast Sunday morning for anyone interested in joining them.

A Biblical approach to welfare?

[by Dean Smith] TOMS Shoes as its name suggests is a shoe manufacturer with a unique approach to business. I have probably only bought two pairs of shoes in the last 25 years. It’s sad, but my wife doesn’t trust me to buy my own clothes. Some who knew me as a bachelor would say for good reason. As soon as I mentioned the brand name, my daughter’s interest was instantly piqued. “I love TOMS,” she said. Whenever TOMS sells a pair of shoes through a retail outlet, it provides a free pair of shoes to a child in a developing country. It does the same with its high-end sun glasses, but provides corrective glasses for children with seeing impairments, instead of the much cooler shades.

Give Me All Your Money

There is one common criticism of all Christian churches; “They just want my …” and I don’t need to finish the sentence. We all know. Instead of defending something wrong, we should admit that there are serious problems with money management, everywhere. Religious groups beg and most people don’t want to give. Jim and Tammy Bakker took money for their PTL ministry and spent it on an amusement park and an air-conditioned dog house. Oral Roberts said ‘send me a million dollars or God will take me home’ and he was paid by the owner of a dog racing park. We are all infected with wrong thinking about money. The best of us earn and save, and spend carefully, and the rest miss at least one of those points “earn – save – spend.” The formula is simple and it applies to everyone, you, me, and church leaders. It is simple, and it is fundamentally wrong.