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Tithes Vs. Pledges


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While a Christian, I always tithed. Most of the time 10% of my gross, although in the last few years I dropped it to 10% of net because I was so frustrated at not having any extra money available for extras, emergencies, etc. (God didn't always seem to provide... :shrug: ) I will say that my former church wasn't extremely pushy about what you gave, just the occasional sermon on tithing. The pastor didn't even know who gave what; that was all in the hands of a recording secretary and the church treasurer. I supposed that was to keep the minister impartial, and not sucking up to the big donors, and I can agree with that. The tithe was not connected with any type of church membership, as the denomination I belonged to had no formal membership or process of joining the church, other than proclaiming yourself to believe in Jesus and accepting salvation. We also had a "Faith Promise" Sunday, where people could make a pledge that went to special missions projects. This pledge was anonymous, as you were going on "faith" for God to provide the extra funds, so there was no tracking system by the church on what you gave (other than if you gave by check and designated it "Faith Promise", then the recording secretary marked it as thus on your statement). I would get a quarterly statement showing the tithes, pledges, and any special designated offerings. The church also would provide a monthly financial statement in the church bulletin, so everyone could see what's coming in and going out, and what expenses were going for. This was the only church I attended as an adult, and thus this was my only experience with donating to a religious organization.

 

I now attend a Unitarian-Universalist church on and off (I'm not very regular). I agree with much of what they promote, and like the idea of a community of people who are all free to find (or, if they choose to, not even look for) God/spirituality/whatever in their own way. I've always put a few bucks in the plate when I attend, and a few years ago I finally decided to just make out checks to make it easier to track for taxes. I suppose that the checks were the reason that last year I was contacted by a Pledge Drive committee member to see if I wanted to make a formal pledge. So I thought why not, decided on a certain amount, turned in the info, and signed a card. After a few weeks, I was surprised to receive in the mail a letter of thanks "...for your pledge of $xxx.xx", signed by the trustee president, treasurer, and the minister. It was the minister's signature that shook me a bit; as I said before my previous church didn't have the minister view the financial giving records. So, I was a little put off by this, but I continued to put my check in the plate. Then this spring they start the new year's pledge drive (the financial year starts in July). It was better than the previous year, in that they didn't bug you several times with phone calls, so I liked that. They just had some special announcements, and a few mailings, and then a chance to sign up during a weekend service. So I did it again; I didn't raise my pledge amount though. In June, I receive in the mail an update on how much I had donated the past year (this, other than a statement in January that I have to request for tax purposes, is the only record/receipt given to me on my donations), and how much I needed to give to meet my 2005-06 pledge goal by the end of the month. To me, this seemed like a bill; didn't they trust me to give what I said I would? Plus, the only info I get on the churches finances is a general income/outgo report in the newletter, which doesn't show what exactly all the money goes for. Maybe that info is only for members (I never formally joined)?

 

Now is the beginning of the new pledge year, and I was mailed a form to fill out. This year they want to know exactly how I am paying--weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc., "to enable our assistant treasurer to send out timely reminders for pledge payments". What, if I indicate weekly I'll now get a weekly bill? If I'm gone a couple of weeks, I get a warning notice? They also wrote, "if circumstances require you to revise your pledge, contact...." Gee, in my old church, if my paycheck was lower than it had been, I just gave a smaller amount. I didn't have to report it to the treasurer!

 

Ok, I've went on too long already, and maybe I'm just bitching and waving a red flag over nothing. :shrug: But I feel like next year not pledging, and just go back to dropping whatever in the plate. I like a simple life; this all seems like too much control. I might be too suspicious, but I don't have a lot to compare my experience with. What do you think; is my UU church normal in how they handle donations? How did your churches handle tithes/pledges? If you attend any kind of religious/spiritual group now (UU, pagan, Buddhist, whatever) how do they deal with it?

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Eh, sounds like the way a lot of not-for-profits run. If you pledge, they like to remind you--sometimes incessantly--to keep your pledge. Kinda pressure you into it. If they're like most not-for-profits, some of their pledges go completely unmet.

 

I'd rather just give donations as the plate goes around, myself.

 

The way the pastor at your earlier church didn't look at the tithes is a good system, but not all places follow that rule. It's not actually standard practice.

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First, you are not obligated to fulfill a pledge. So if you went weekly, and couldn't make a payment, tough luck for them if you don't feel like catching back up. The way the UU group is handling it seems very familiar to several churches I have attended. I won't delve into whether or not that is a good or bad thing.

 

If you really want them to get off your backs ask for the quarterly statements and just say you'll pay when you want and work to pay that amount each quarter. If you still think they're being too oppressive, explain that and say you're not interested in pledging any amount any more because of how they handle such things and will just give as you feel the urge to avoid the hassle and pretext at obligation.

 

I remember one church we went to, this has nothing to do with the above, where all year long the pastor would remind people to tithe from their gross income. "God wants our first-fruits... not the ones left over after the government has taken their share..." or something along those lines. That really didn't bug me too much -- I wasn't tithing anyway because I wasn't a believer just pretending to be one. But tax time rolled around and suddenly he starts preaching that people need to tithe on all their income... including their tax return! Right there I knew what a scam tithes really were. Everyone had already tithed on the money they were getting back from the tax return... this wasn't about 10% or obeying God's law... it was about the money. That was one of the clearer indications of that, although there were many more.

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This business of people saying you should be tithing of your first fruits, really used to irritate me. Being a cynic, it made me think that the church was trying to get as much money out of you as possible. But as far as I'm concerned my net salary is my first fruits. Because a certain percentage of the work I do is for the government anyway (taxes). I don't consider that my money in the first place. If it was my money, then nobody should be able to take it away from me, not even the Government. So no, that percentage belonged to the government right form the beginning. My first fruits are what I get in my bank account.

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The whole thing sucks....religion gets enough money from all of our taxpaying pockets ...including me! and all the other's who don't attend.

 

If this doesn't help anyone feel better about sticking up for yourself..in regards to paying anybloody way you like..nothing will...

 

This is one organisations good fortune....its a web based religious organisation so how can it justify this status I do not know......

irs-501c3.jpg

 

but....that's how the system is set up unfortunately.......its a competetive business - so many chruches around....they must step up use the lastest techniques to get money...

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