- How does a congregation know what it should give?
- How does our congregation decide what allocation it should accept?
- When we accept an allocation, does that mean we guarantee that it will be fulfilled?
- When and how often should our donations to Presbyterians Sharing be remitted?
- What happens if we do not meet our expected allocation?
- Why can’t our congregation just give money to a mission project of our choice and have it credited to Presbyterians Sharing?
- Why should we give to Presbyterians Sharing when we have difficulty meeting our own budget?
- What has Presbyterians Sharing done for my congregation?
- Is it possible to visit some of our church’s mission partners to see how our gifts to Presbyterians Sharing are used in mission?
1. How does a congregation know what it should give?
The 139th General Assembly approved a new formula for Presbyterians Sharing starting in 2014: 10% of a congregation’s dollar base.
The dollar base is money raised by the congregation for all congregational purposes in a given year, minus funds collected for Presbyterians Sharing and other mission givings, as well as money used for debt repayment (principal and interest). These figures are taken from the Statistical Report which is received from each congregation annually.
For more information, go to “Calculating Your Presbyterians Sharing Expected Allocation.”
In the fall, presbyteries receive the expected allocation for their presbytery for the coming year, with the breakdown for each congregation. It is the responsibility of the presbytery to review the expected congregational allocations, taking into account the particular situation of each congregation and making adjustments as necessary. The presbytery then passes the expected and or/adjusted allocation to each congregation. Presbyteries are encouraged not to make broad sweeping adjustments to the expected allocation. If they make adjustments to address exceptional circumstances, they are requested to offset any downward adjustments with an upward adjustment for another congregation in the presbytery, so that the presbytery is striving toward its overall goal.
2. How does our congregation decide what allocation it should accept?
Allocations are a guideline for the congregation to know what is a fair amount for them to contribute to The Presbyterian Church in Canada’s mission and ministry work.
It is the session’s responsibility to inform the congregation of the expected allocation and to report the amount accepted by the congregation back to presbytery (The Book of Forms, 113.6.1).
The congregation decides, usually at its annual meeting, what allocation it will accept. Because budgets are set based on these allocations, we appreciate if the accepted amount can reflect as closely as possible to what will be sent in. Sometimes having a little bit of a higher goal gives a congregation something to strive for.
The accepted allocation is reported back to presbytery immediately after the congregation’s annual meeting, and the presbytery reports back the accepted allocations to the stewardship office of the national church. Congregations can also report online. Allocations reported online will be passed on to presbyteries.
Here are some guidelines that our church has suggested over the years:
- Congregations are urged to meet their allocations; they may even accept a higher figure than expected.
- Congregations may work at growth in giving. As their own needs increase, so do the needs of the national church for heating, staff salaries and programs.
- If a congregation accepts an allocation less than its expected allocation, it is encouraged to make a plan that will help it to grow so that the church’s mission work will not fall behind. Positive growth, even in incremental steps over time, motivates congregations and affirms that they are moving in the right direction.
Stewardship is at the heart of the matter.
Congregations are asked to give joyfully and with prayer the amount they wish to give, in response to God’s gracious blessings and in the spirit of Paul in his fundraising appeal to the Corinthian church:
“Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” – II Corinthians 9:7, 8
Mission education is key.
It is important for all congregations to provide ongoing education for members so that the congregation knows how their money is being used, so they will pray for the ministries of the church, and so a sense of connectedness with the broader church will be fostered. For help doing this, check out the print, photo and video resources.
3. When we accept an allocation, does that mean we guarantee that it will be fulfilled? Should it be a part of our annual budget?
Those congregations that consistently meet or even exceed their commitment typically include their accepted allocation in their annual budget, with the intention that it will be fulfilled. By including it in the overall congregational budget, everybody participates. These congregations may or may not have a separate line for Presbyterians Sharing on their offering envelope. Many find it helpful to keep the line on the envelope as a weekly reminder of their participation in the work of the broader church.
All money designated by givers to Presbyterians Sharing must be remitted within the year of designation, even if they exceed the accepted amount.
4. When and how often should our donations to Presbyterians Sharing be remitted?
Since the budgetary needs are current – that is, the money received in a given year is required for that specific year – congregations are encouraged to send in their gifts on a regular basis. The 1992 General Assembly recommended that congregations submit their gifts on a monthly basis.
5. What happens if we do not meet our expected allocation?
There is no penalty for not meeting your accepted allocation. We understand that sometimes circumstances change for congregations between accepting and remitting their allocation. If you are unable to meet your allocation, please contact the Stewardship office and let us know.
6. Why can’t our congregation just give money to a mission project of our choice and have it credited to Presbyterians Sharing?
If everyone only supported the project of their choice, the less glamorous, less advertised budget items would have difficulty receiving enough support. Yet these budget items may be of equal or even greater importance, or they may be essential to the smooth functioning of the mission and ministries, and organization of our church. A pooled fund means that everyone contributes to all parts of the budget. Presbyterians Sharing is a pooled fund designed to support the entire body so it may faithfully fulfill its God-given mandate to proclaim Christ in word and deed.
7. Why should we give to Presbyterians Sharing when we have difficulty meeting our own budget? Congregations have many very real needs of their own. Stipends must be paid, buildings need to be maintained, and local ministries require funds as well. Shouldn’t we look after our own needs first?
The principle of proportional giving – whether a tithe or some other percent of our income – is a biblical principle. It applies not only to individuals, but also to communities of faith. Congregations that have a concern beyond their own survival and their own programs, however important and necessary, will likely find that their own ministries grow as they also reach out beyond themselves.
It is important that all congregations support Presbyterians Sharing in some way. The Presbyterian Church in Canada is a connectional church. This means that we covenant to support each other and to work together. Each year at General Assembly we approve the church’s ministries and the budget required to achieve them.
There are times and circumstances when a congregation has to decrease its givings, at least for a time, but this places a greater responsibility on other congregations, who are also often struggling, to make up the difference.
8. What has Presbyterians Sharing done for my congregation?
Do you have a minister who received training at one of our theological colleges? Have you been helped by church offices in the search for a minister? Do you use Christian education, worship or evangelism resources provided through church offices? Have you ever sent delegates to a Stewards by Design event or training seminar? Have your young people participated in a Canada Youth event or a Youth in Mission program? Have you used the services of the finance department in processing your minister’s benefits? Has your congregation ever received financial support through Canadian Ministries? Do you use the worship bulletin covers produced by the church? Have you required legal or other advice from the Assembly Office? Have you hosted a mission speaker? These are just some of the ministries that are available to congregations because of their gifts to Presbyterians Sharing.
9. Is it possible to visit some of our church’s mission partners to see how our gifts to Presbyterians Sharing are used in mission?
Yes. Your congregation may send a team to visit partners in a number of countries around the world (including Canada) or go on a study tour. Click here to learn more.