During the lockdown due to COVID-19, which lasted over four months, a church had a little financial surplus rather than a financial deficit. The pastor of the church (called G for short) never suspended the online ministry when the church was forced to cease the in-person gatherings many times during two and a half years of COVID-19.
In the small to medium-sized church in a town on the southeastern coast of Guangdong Province, Sunday services are attended by no more than 100 believers (except at Christmas and the Chinese New Year) who are almost the elderly and children, as the younger believers go to work in the Pearl River Delta region due to the urbanization.
The followings are what Pastor G does, which encourages the congregation to be willing to make offerings.
Do not "lie-flat"(or couch potato) during the lockdown period.
Besides sending some spiritual articles or prayer titles to the WeChat group every day, G gives virtual sermons around five or six o'clock every Sunday morning, letting believers hear their shepherd’s voice. Some believers gave feedback, "I’m extremely happy getting up to hear the sermon from beginning to end." In this way, believers can also be prevented from listening to heresy or extreme teachings due to their spiritual famine.
Highlight group ministry and visit believers in difficulties
Following the COVID-19 protocols during the church’s lockdown period, Pastor G increased the frequency of visits to know the situation of the members he is pastoring.
Every time he arrived at the community or village where believers live, G called to gather the believers of three to five to share the Lord’s grace and their experiences with prayers, telling them about the situation of the church.
As a 90-year-old female believer said at a group prayer meeting, "Each one has been affected by the epidemic, and the church is no exception. With the same normal expenses during this period, the church could tide over the difficulties if we are willing to give a little money. Although we elderly people cannot make money, we can contribute some pocket money that our descendants give us.” As believers present heard it, the pastor didn’t even need to mention making an offering. The next time of gathering, they donated 20, 50, 100, or 200 yuan, with some even contributing once a month.
Second, pastoral staff must be sensitive to the needs of believers, always paying attention to them and their families. One evening in early April, G received a call that a male Christian whose job was a plasterer was unfortunately injured while working. G immediately called him to ask about the situation with prayers. The next afternoon, he invited another two male believers in the village to visit him, which moved the injured believer who donated 100 yuan to the church.
A few years ago, an old female believer had an operation in the provincial hospital. G and his wife made a special trip to visit her in the provincial capital. Before the Chinese New Year, the old believer went back to live in their hometown with her husband who was hospitalized due to illness later. They often sent greetings and prayed for him on WeChat, as the hospital did not allow outsiders to enter the ward due to the epidemic. After he was discharged from the hospital, they came to visit him again. His youngest daughter living far away never stopped making offerings.
A male Christian from another place baptized by G gave his tithes of a large amount of money every month. G helped him whenever he encountered difficulties, often calling him when he was busy after the Chinese New Year. Occasionally, G was invited to his home to share the grace of God and make intercessory prayers for him.
Be an example for believers in contributions
In July 2019, the church had only about 100,000 yuan, when G was elected as the head of the church which needed to carry out projects of waterproofing, leak repairs, and altar maintenance and couldn’t make ends meet. Since then, G had been the first to offer money almost every Sunday and announced the offerings in the WeChat group on Sunday evening. Many believers were moved to make regular contributions every Sunday, which increased the income of the church.
How can’t a church afford a pastor? If it receives 3,000 or 4,000 yuan each month from 40 or 50 believers when the church cares for its members and the staff members take the lead in the offering.
Do a good job in financial management
According to the Regulations of the Chinese Church, it is not appropriate for pastors to serve as the church's treasurer, which can avoid them from entering into temptation.
During the lockdown period, when the elderly without smartphones gave G offerings to express their gratitude, the pastor recorded the donor, time, and amount in a small notebook every time. At the end of each month, G gathered the financial team to sort out the finances of the month. The accountant made out the receipts recording the time and amount of each believer’s contribution with the signatures of the church’s leader, accountant, and cashier, plus the official seal of the church. The pastor gives them the list of offerings (the third couplet) to reassure them when he sees them next time.
The senior believers put the money into the offering box themselves when the gatherings resumed.
(The article is originally published by the Gospel Times and the author is a Christian in Henan.)
- Translated by Abigail Wu