Should I join a church? Isn’t it ok for me to just attend?

One of our responsibilities as Catholics is to be part of a church community.  We attend mass weekly.  We participate in the life of the church.  We join the church and are counted as part of the community.  We support the church financially so that it can exist in our community and we can attend the church nearby our home.

When your dad and I were first married, your Grandpa, who was on his church’s stewardship commission, sat down with us and explained that we needed to find a local parish near our home, join it and support it.  It is the only way to grow our faith community and sustain it.  The light bill doesn’t pay itself. Our church needs contributions from every one of us.  We have to pay the electric bill.  We have staff members who bring life to our ideas in the form of our worship, faith formation, and facilities.  We need to pay their salaries.  We have a church mortgage. It takes each of us giving what we can to make this all work.

You participate in the church through your time, talent, and treasure.  If you are gifted with musical ability, you might participate in the choir.  If you are gifted with small children, you might help in the nursery or teach faith formation.  What about your treasure, how can you decide how much you need to give each week to support the parish?   See Deuteronomy 14:22-26 and Acts 4:32-35.  We are asked to give 5 percent to our local church and 5 percent to other charities totaling 10 percent.    Practically speaking, if I work 40 hours a week, a five percent tithe would be equal to two hours of work.

Your dad and I have varied our donations along this guideline.  We do compromise a bit and give 10% of our take-home pay.  Our reasoning is that money will some day come back to us in the form of Social Security, Pension, and Savings and we will give 10% based on our income at that time.  So let’s make this simple.  Assume that you make $20 per hour.  That means that each week, you will take home about $14 after taxes, social security, and 401K contributions for that hour of work.  You may then pledge to give $28 per week.

What if that seems like too much?   I have other monthly commitments.  I simply want to encourage you to give what you can.  Give $14 per week if $28 seems like too much.  Give God your first fruits before you budget for your fitness classes and your coffee shop dollars.  Start somewhere and increase as your ability to better budget allows you to.  Increase your giving level when you receive pay increases.  Be a good steward of the money God entrusts to you.

And what about the Catholic Services Appeal or the other charities that we are asked to give to at our weekly masses?  Those amounts come out of the other 5% of our giving which include other charities as well.  If each family gives, we make our goal.

Think about what you can give joyfully and give until it feels good.  Call your parish office about setting up an automatic withdrawal.  By doing that, you help your church staff know that there is a steady income and how to budget for paying the bills.

May your church community be a blessing to you and you to them all the days of your life.  Oh God, help us to find the local church we need to belong to.  Help us to step up and join.  Help us to contribute our time, talent, and treasure for the good of our community and to help further your Kingdom on earth.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Love,

Mymom