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#28363 Tue Oct 04, 2005 7:36 AM
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What do you all think about the practice of giving church members offering envelopes. Or, about the church keeping records of a person's specific giving in general. I know there are a lot of issues related to taxes and people like to get tax deductions and the like, but I have always been a little wary of the church tracking my long-term giving. I personally never used the envelopes I was provided with, but since I wrote checks the records were still there. In some ways, when I know my giving is being tracked I feel like it influences my motives for actually giving, which is what motivated me asking the question. When I know other people are looking at how much I give (whether they are judging me or not), I feel like I've lost some of my freedom in giving.

In the Sermon on the Mount we are encouraged to give "anonymously", although I think that passage is probably teaching that our motive for giving should not be so we can look good in front of other people. In other places in the NT, some people's giving is definitely not anonymous.

Any opinions?

John

john #28364 Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:04 AM
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In the USA, the church has legal responsibilities to keep track of individual giving if the individual giver takes a tax deduction for their monetary gifts. Therefore, they have to keep track. Most likely, only the treasurer or the Deacons know the information as most Pastors do not want to know, even those who are strong advocates for tithing.

I think offering envelopes are probably the thing of the past. I haven't seen them used directly in many years. A funny true story about them. I was visiting my parents church. When offering was being taken, a little boy got one of the envelopes out and asked his father what they were going to give. The father said nothing, so the little boy wrote his name and put $0 for the amount on the envelope before placing it in the offering plate.

Sorry, I'm not answering your question, but why so concern about privacy over this. Is our giving part of our public profession. I just don't understand the concern over privacy. Maybe I haven't seen any abuse of it.

Last edited by John_C; Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:08 AM.

John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
john #28365 Tue Oct 04, 2005 8:16 AM
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We don't use offering envelopes at my church, but I do use a check so I can get tax deductions (I don't see anything wrong with that.) If we took the giving in secret command to mean no checks in the offering plate, wouldn't that mean we couldn't use checks for anything else that was not a purchase? People are free to use money or checks.

Did you know that some churches actually use offering envelopes on which you not only write how much you are tithing but you also are supposed to "grade" yourself for the past week on Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, service, etc? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bash.gif" alt="" />


True godliness is a sincere feeling which loves God as Father as much as it fears and reverences Him as Lord, embraces His righteousness, and dreads offending Him worse than death~ Calvin
John_C #28366 Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:04 PM
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For those of you who are interested, here's a summary of the tax reporting requirements for churches and their members, I'll try and keep it simple as I can:

For tax purposes, substantiation of the deduction rests with the donor. Under the Internal Revenue Code, in order for any (single) contribution of $250 or more to be tax deductible, written acknowledgement (i.e. a receipt) must be received from the charity by the time the donor files his tax return. The receipt is not required to be filed with the tax return, it must be maintained in the donor's files and supplied upon audit if requested by the IRS agent. For contributions of less than $250, a cancelled check is sufficient documentation upon audit.

Please note that the $250 threshold is for single (not cumulative) gifts of $250 or more. Therefore, if you are in the practice of giving $100 a week to your church, you are not required to obtain a receipt from the church because none of the contributions exceeded $250. However, let's say you were away for a few weeks and upon your return you wrote a check for $300 to the church. In order to deduct that $300 contribution you are required to obtain a receipt from the church. By getting a year end statement listing all of your annual giving you would be in compliance with the receipt requirement if one or more of your weekly gifts is $250 or more.

Unlike other charities, churches have no reporting obligations to the IRS. They are not required to file any type of tax or information return with the IRS to report their receipts and expenses. (They do of course have payroll reporting requirements for compensation paid to the staff). Under current law, a church is granted automatic tax exemption, it does not have to file an application for tax exemption like other charities.

So, in summary, a church maintains records of its members' giving for their convenience and its own internal reasons, not due to any IRS requirement.


___________________
A man's most glorious actions will at last be found to be but glorious sins, if he hath made himself, and not the glory of God, the end of those actions. (Thomas Brooks)

john #28367 Tue Oct 04, 2005 12:47 PM
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John,
As far as I know, the envelope system is still in use here. From memory the envelopes would carry only a number. Those responsible for sending out envelopes had a list with members names and corresponding numbers. Those responsible for opening the envelopes noted the amount against the number, but were not aware of the member to which that number had been allocated. Thus, if required, a check could be carried out, but normally no one would know who had given what! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/ClapHands.gif" alt="" />

john #28368 Tue Oct 04, 2005 5:40 PM
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John

As usual I'll give a little chat room like post.

Just give brother out of a greatful heart <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/ClapHands.gif" alt="" /> if someone is going to judge you that's their sin.

john #28369 Tue Oct 04, 2005 9:40 PM
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John,

What you give is simply a matter for your conscience and your committment to your church. The Bible tells us "don't do your charitable deeds before men to be seen of them," and "don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deeds may be in secret;" (Matt. 6:1-4)

However, when I talk to the deacons in my church about whether people have objections to the use of offering envelopes they answer... some people use them and some don't.


Wes


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts
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Saved_n_kept said:
John,
As far as I know, the envelope system is still in use here. From memory the envelopes would carry only a number. Those responsible for sending out envelopes had a list with members names and corresponding numbers. Those responsible for opening the envelopes noted the amount against the number, but were not aware of the member to which that number had been allocated. Thus, if required, a check could be carried out, but normally no one would know who had given what! <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/ClapHands.gif" alt="" />

I know of churches that simply place the numbered envelopes in a tray for the members to take for themselves, if they wish. Of course, that eliminates any IRS acceptable check of contributions. However, it is a better system for maintaining anonymity. No officer of the church can associate a number with a specific member.

Last edited by speratus; Wed Oct 05, 2005 4:09 AM.
john #28371 Wed Oct 05, 2005 1:47 AM
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I've never used an envelope. <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/shrug.gif" alt="" />


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john #28372 Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:47 AM
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I personally don't have a problem with offering envelopes/records. The only person who knows how much is given by individual members in my former Church (I just moved) was checked out before they were given that responsibility. They also must go through audits a few times per year to make sure everything is in order.
Also in this case the person doing this, is an Accountant and as such if they breached confidentiality, they would risk loosing their Accountant designation.

Tom

Last edited by Tom; Fri Oct 07, 2005 12:48 AM.
john #28373 Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:51 AM
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These thoughts just occured. Offering envelopes most likely started with the need to keep records of giving when most gave by cash. In addition, someone came up with the idea of using it along with budgeting. With most giving by checks nowadays, the envelopes are no longer needed.

I wonder if anyone gives by direct deposit? If so, then people would not be as likely to leave a church because of the trouble of making the direct deposit changes.


John Chaney

"having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith . . ." Colossians 2:7
John_C #28374 Fri Oct 07, 2005 8:12 AM
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I wonder if anyone gives by direct deposit? If so, then people would not be as likely to leave a church because of the trouble of making the direct deposit changes.

<img src="/forum/images/graemlins/giggle.gif" alt="" />

That's a novel way of keeping the sheep in the flock!


Trust the past to God's mercy, the present to God's love and the future to God's providence." - St. Augustine
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MarieP #28375 Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:34 PM
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SemperReformanda said:
We don't use offering envelopes at my church, but I do use a check so I can get tax deductions (I don't see anything wrong with that.) If we took the giving in secret command to mean no checks in the offering plate, wouldn't that mean we couldn't use checks for anything else that was not a purchase? People are free to use money or checks.

Did you know that some churches actually use offering envelopes on which you not only write how much you are tithing but you also are supposed to "grade" yourself for the past week on Bible reading, prayer, church attendance, service, etc? <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bash.gif" alt="" />

Marie,

I guess my original question was a little misleading. The main problem I was worried about was not so much a privacy issue but the point that when you know someone is counting how much you give, it may lead to a subtle shift in your heart about the motive behind your giving. Whether only one person is counting your giving or many, the mere fact that you know someone is counting might possibly affect how/why you are giving. This also goes with the tax deduction issue.

I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with using your offerings as a tax deduction, but as Christians we should always be wary that when we do use them in that manner that the purpose for which we are giving to the church does not become subverted, i.e., to get a tax deduction. I personally have known friends whose purpose for giving is often motivated (whether to a large or small extent) by tax deductions. I think this is wrong (at least as it pertains to church giving).

As I stated in my original post, when I was in the U.S. I always paid by check so there were definitely records. I got them in the mail at the end of every year. I don't see much of a way around that unless you dump a big wad of cash in the offering plate every week.

I'm glad I don't have to grade myself on my "Christian duties" every week on an envelope. I think I would be searching for a new church very soon.

John

William #28376 Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:35 PM
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William said:
John

As usual I'll give a little chat room like post.

Just give brother out of a greatful heart <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/ClapHands.gif" alt="" /> if someone is going to judge you that's their sin.

William,

I think that is very sound and encouraging advice. Thanks.

John

Wes #28377 Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:38 PM
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Wes said:
John,

What you give is simply a matter for your conscience and your committment to your church. The Bible tells us "don't do your charitable deeds before men to be seen of them," and "don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deeds may be in secret;" (Matt. 6:1-4)

Wes,

Would you mind explaining what you mean by "and your committment to your church"? Do you mean a personal committment or more of a formal committment to give a certain amount? If the first, I have no problem, but if the second, I would be wary. It seems if it was a formal committment it might soon come in to conflict with "a matter for your conscience". How would resolve the two in that situation?

John

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