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November 12, 2017, 12:00 AM

10, 10, 80 Whole Life Stewardship


Tis the season to talk about stewardship. And before you say why from the pulpit I submit to you that 16 of the 38 biblical parables taught by Jesus were about how to run our finances. Why money in the church well it is also true that 1 out of every 10 verse in the gospels has something to do with money. So, apparently how we deal with money is important but there is far more to stewardship than just money.

There are many stewardship topics we could talk about. We could talk about how the church is one of the only institutions left that operates solely on your donation. We could talk about how you see fifty people in worship and that ignores the fifty that worship in chapel on Wednesday from the nursery school. We could talk about how the school, the quilts, the harvest program, thanksgiving baskets, Christmas baskets and the “men's” breakfast help us to reach out to the community with the love of Christ and from that ask how are you reaching out and/or participating in the outreach of the church. And all of these would be worthy of the time.

Instead this morning I want to spend some time on two very concrete thoughts. First, I want to speak to you about 10, 10, 80 as a way to live and why it works. Second, I want to talk to you about $1 per day.

Starting with 10, 10, 80. This is a way to deal with both tithing and long term financial success. Actually, it is a rule that is based in caring for the church and making sure you can retire.

Let us look at the retirement side of the equation first. If you save 10% of your income and manage a 7% average return on investment (which you might do in the stock market) and then after thirty years were to turn around and start living off the money, your interest income would be 80% of your pre-retirement income. The interesting thing is that if you have spent the last thirty years living on 80% of your income then you effectively have no drop in income when you shift to retirement.

Now I will admit that this is somewhat overly simplistic in that it assumes steady income and I hope and pray that you are getting raises every year so maybe you have to run the equation a little longer than thirty years. This also assumes a 7% return on your investments, which at the time the equation was created was probably a standard for bonds and bank CD's. However, this also does not account for Social Security retirement income or that fact that more and more I see people taking part time work well into their “retirement” and thus our incomes are supplemented in a way that the differential should more than take care of itself. So, I posit to you that saving 10% of your income for thirty years and living on 80% you could retire in about 30 years. For those of you sitting here and planning to start full time work at 25 that means early retirement at 55 if you want it.

Now if you take 10% and add it to 80% you will note that this only adds up to 90% thus leaving 10% behind. That 10% is then designated for the church and the work of the church and that is known as a tithe.

The term tithe as the 10% offering goes all the way back to Abraham and the old testament. At that time Abraham gave one tenth of all that he had to Melchizedek the great high priest. We know as well that offerings were commanded of the Jews and that those became the means for caring for the Levite tribe who were the tribe of the priests. We know as well that this continued into Jesus day because he rebukes the scribes and pharisees for tithing “mint and dill and cumin” but they had “neglected weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.” In other words these folk were worried about making sure that they did not short change God one cumin seed even as they neglected the nature, character and intent of the law. We have no direct command from Jesus but infer from his not telling them the principle behind tithe was wrong and the long history of tithing among God's people that this continues to be the best option for us today.

The interesting thing about this is that if the average income per person was $35,000 per year and we averaged 50 people in worship on Sunday it would give us a income in the plate of $175,000 leaving us to fix the roof, pay me, pay the utilities and (wait for it........) and.......... fund ministry. Even at $25,000 per person per year we would have $125,000 per year in offerings. Do this and retain the large annual gift we currently receive and the possibilities are nearly endless.

In fairness, I must also say thank you to those here who do contribute generously. I also understand that each of us has a different ability to give and that life circumstances get in the way of lots of good plans but often a goal and a concrete goal is helpful in working toward our future. I will also note that I have never heard of anyone who tithed and most do it for spiritual reason, but I have never met a person who was sorry that they intentionally tithed their income. And thus I bring you 10-10-80 as one way to live well.

The second thing I want to bring to you is One Dollar a Day. It is very easy to look at something like 10% when we are currently at 2% and look at the differential and determine there is no way I could give that much. It is very possible that the shift in your budget would be too much but what if I were to suggest that you give one dollar per day more in the next year than you did in the year before. That might seem like a more manageable number. Combine that with always upping your tithe when you get a raise by an amount that is 10% of your raise and I think you will find that you are tithing sooner than you might imagine.

You may be sitting here and thinking what difference does $1 per day per person really make to the congregation. Other than I have never seen the treasurer snivel at one penny, I will submit to you that we usually have about 50 people in worship on a Sunday morning. If this is true and since $1 per day is $365 per year simple math tells me that it would add $18,250 per year to the income of the congregation. Now if we take and consider that there are probably another at least 15 people for whom they are not present either because they are on vacation or because regular attendance means once or twice each month and the number becomes $23,725.

If you are sitting in the pew thinking that does not sound like a lot of money and how can that small sum solve our problems I will suggest to you that if we did this for four to five years running we would have $100,000 in growth in our income, which would nearly double the portion of our income not given as a major annual gift.

So, I propose to you that if you are sitting this week considering your pledge form and how much you might increase the pledge, $1 per day is not a bad option. Now I understand that different people have different abilities to give and so for some of you this may be an unreasonable stretch and maybe you need to do it over two years but I also know that some of you are very capable of giving $2 or $3 per day more than you are currently. Mostly though this is a concrete way to think through the question of how much to increase your giving.

Whatever your pledge, Thank You. You are helping us to bring the Gospel to a world much in need whether it is through the Love of God we show in a quilt or the Love of God we share in our weekly chapel service or the Love of God shown to a hungry person in our community and maybe who is not even aware of the work that went into getting them fed and for those moments when I am available to someone during the week who has just had a bad time and needs a person to pray with them. Your donations support the work of this congregation and help to ensure the hand of God and the Love of God are present in the world.

So, whether you are considering the grand arc of life and how you might run your finances or you are considering how to increase your pledge to the church you have two concrete ways to work on the equation. First, consider splitting your income into 10% for savings, 10% as a tithe to the church and living on 80% of your income. Second, if you don't know how to get the the 10% tithe or simply are trying to figure out how much you might increase your pledge for next year, I suggest $1 per day. And in this way, together, we can continue to serve God and serve a world much in need by bringing them the love of God. 


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