We all face tough questions about our charitable giving. Which of the many worthy causes clamoring for our attention will I choose to support? How much can I afford to give? Will my gift be used well? Will it help to transform lives and communities? I can’t give to everything—what will happen to the programs if I can’t support them?
In tough financial times, these questions are even harder to answer.
That’s one reason why the Christian Reformed Church in North America has a system called ministry shares. Although the income from ministry shares accounts for less than half of the CRC’s overall ministry budget, it allows for churches to be planted, missionaries to bring the good news, and scores of projects to build God’s kingdom, even when times are tight.
Ministry shares also give each and every adult member of the CRC a stake in the ministries that belong to their church. Here’s how the ministry share program works: each congregation is asked to contribute a certain amount on behalf of each active, adult member toward these shared denominational ministries. All CRC agencies except the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) receive a portion of their annual budgets from ministry shares.
These dollars go a long way.
They help missionaries to start libraries in Russia and to speak softly to Muslims about Jesus Christ. They help the church begin new and innovative places of worship all over North America and to train leaders for those congregations. They support a program that helps to break down racial barriers. They allow media ministers to reach across borders and share the good news with millions who otherwise might never hear.
They help provide a Reformed Christian education to college and seminary students. They help fund the development of curriculum and other resources that help thousands of children, teens, and adults come to know God and serve their neighbors. They help pay the salaries of the men and women who work in the background, making sure that ministry remains always first for the church. They help fund a ministry whose focus is to keep our churches safe from abuse. They pay for the office that dedicates itself to making sure that everyone, regardless of their disabilities, has a proper place at God’s table.
“This is an effective and efficient way for us to do ministry,” says John Bolt, director of finance and administration for the CRC. “We tell churches that there are suggested levels of ministry share contributions. If you feel financially blessed, you can give more. But if you are having money difficulties, you can pay less.”
To learn more about ministry shares and what they do, go to www.crcna.org and click on “Ministry Shares” under “Donate.” You will find a variety of useful resources, including an entertaining and informative short video that answers many of the questions people have about ministry shares. n
Distribution of Ministry Shares 2009
Back to God Ministries International $3,623,000
Calvin College $2,603,000
Calvin Seminary $2,876,000
Faith Alive $1,090,000
Home Missions $3,665,000
World Missions $4,602,000
World Relief $0
Specialized Ministries $3,304,000
Denominational Services $2,817,000
Special Assistance Fund $128,000
Total for 2009: $24,708,000