THE MOST NEEDED KIND OF OFFERING
in a Church With a Worldwide Mission
by Marcos Faiock Bomfim
GC Stewardship Ministries
“I am using my offerings to fund a food bank initiative in a poor country, and every food bag receives also a missionary book,” said Edward, a committed fellow church member in my church in Maryland (USA). Nelson, a friend and fellow pastor working in a developing country, told me that he is keeping his offerings in a special bank account, waiting for the best project for which to use them.
While pondering the two cases above, I wondered what would be the most efficient way to give, use, or distribute “my” offerings. Also, I wondered how to explain why is it important to give offerings if I am already tithing. Why are offerings important in the end-time context? Should we ideally bring regular and systematic offerings to the storehouse, as we do with the tithe? If the offerings really belong to God, and not to me, is it right for me to decide how to distribute them, or there are some divine directives as to how I distribute those funds?
This article, which will be published in three parts, will present the difference between the uses of tithe and offerings in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It will also explain why offerings are also crucial, even if you are already tithing, and why regular offerings should also be brought to the storehouse. Finally, besides showing how the General Conference uses offerings, this article will also suggest an efficient way to distribute your offerings.
WHY SHOULD I GIVE OFFERINGS IF I AM ALREADY TITHING?
Here are some reasons offerings should be considered as important as tithe:
- God requires and expects offerings just as he does tithe. According to the Bible, both are equally required and expected by God, and the fact that I am bringing one of them will never exempt me from the other (Mal. 3:8). Ellen G. White, God’s messenger for the last days, is also very clear about this subject.
- Offerings are an expression of recognition and gratitude. David said that all things, including my income or increase, come from God, and it should be from these that I should take my offerings (1 Chron. 29:14), as well as the tithe. I am supposed to bring to Him the firstfruits (the first and/or the best part) of all my increase (Prov. 3:9), to demonstrate my recognition that He is the source of all that I have.
- Offerings require a more complex decision process than the tithe. To give the tithe, I need only to decide if I will comply or not with God’s clear instructions about the subject (regularity, proportion, where to bring it, and how it should be used). But when it comes to offerings, there is an additional choice that is not necessary when I tithe, and it is about how much I will give.
- Offerings can accomplish all that the tithe cannot. Even though the tithe is a very important resource, it is also very restricted and limited in its use. It can be used only as prescribed by God (see chart or infographic 1): for the maintenance of those who are appointed, accredited, and paid by the church to preach the gospel and their support teams (Num. 18:21, 24).
Offerings, on the other hand, are considered as unrestricted, and can be used to support almost all other expenses related to missionary work around the world (see chart or infographic 2)! As a very important end-time mission fund, offerings currently represent only about 30 percent of the Seventh-day Adventist Church finances! Imagine how much more we could do if offerings could be increased. We could expedite Jesus’ mandate to preach the gospel of the kingdom, not only locally, or where we believe it should be preached, but “in all the world as a witness to all the nations” (Matt. 24:14, NKJV).
Although the Lord must be praised for what has already been accomplished in the mission (see charts or infographics 3 and 4), it is still too little compared to what we have been commanded to do. The fields are ripe, the time is short, and the need for resources are many. Who are the laborers that will come in the help of the Lord, investing in a coordinated way to save souls? I will go!
[CHART OR INFOGRAPHIC 1]
The Use of Tithe
- It is used primarily to support those appointed, accredited, and paid by the church to preach the gospel: pastors, evangelists, ministers, and their support teams.
[CHART OR INFOGRAFIC 2]
Some Examples for the Use of Offerings
- Local church (outreach, regular expenses, building/renovation)
- Schools and universities (preparing missionaries)
- Youth ministry (60,000+ Pathfinder Clubs, for example)
- Hospitals, dispensaries, clinics
- Publication of literature
- Radio and TV (AWR, Hope Channel, media centers)
- Caring for widows and orphans (ACS)
- Conference or mission missionary budget (supports missionary initiatives in their region)
[CHART OR INFOGRAPHIC 3]
- Countries and areas of the world: 235
- Countries and areas of the world in which Seventh-day Adventist work is established: 212
- Countries and areas of the world in which Seventh-day Adventist work is not established: 23
- Estimated population of the world (as of June 30, 2019): 7,691,520,000
- Estimated population of countries and areas of the world in which Seventh-day Adventist work is established: 7,470,014,000
Estimated population of countries and areas of the world in which Seventh-day Adventist work is not established: 221,506,000.
[CHART OR INFOGRAPHIC 4]
Languages reached by the Seventh-day Adventist Church (as 2019):
- Languages and dialects used in publications: 311
- Languages and dialects heard in broadcasts: 306
- Languages and dialects used in oral work: 500
- Living languages in the world: 7,111
 Names in this article were changed to protect identities.
 “This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And He desires us to give regularly and systematically” (Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1940], pp. 80, 81; see also pp. 36, 52, 67, 68, 73, 75, 77, 84-86, 258).
 For more about the use of tithe, see Ellen G. White, Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 101-103, and Angel M. Rodriguez, Stewardship Roots—Toward a Theology of Stewardship, pp. 45, 54, 55.
 See GC Working Policy (2019-2020), V14.
 Missionary projects or initiatives partially or entirely supported by offerings.
 “‘Established work’ exists in a country or area of the world when one or more of the following criteria have been met: (1) when an organized church meets regularly; (2) when a mission station, health-care facility, or school is functioning regularly; or (3) when a regular full-time denominational employee is based in the country or area carrying on outreach or soul-winning activities through such units as a Sabbath school, an organized company, or a language school. Seventh-day Adventist work is not considered to be established in a country or area when it is limited to a series of evangelistic meetings, literature evangelist work not based there, scattered Sabbathkeepers, employees traveling through, or temporary service by regular employees, student missionaries, or other volunteer employees” (“Report of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ 2019 Statistics,” 2020 Annual Statistical Report, vol. 2, p. 100).
 Ibid, p. 101.
 Ibid, p. 107.