Felicity Dale at “Simply Church: A House Church Perspective” writes “How should we give financially within the simple/organic/house church?” This post is part of a series that she’s been writing on finances among simple churches. (I pointed to an earlier article in the series in my post “Did someone forget to pass the offering plate.”)
Because of her post, I began to think about churches and money in Scripture again. Today, believers typically pool their money with others among their “local church.” Later, people decide how that money is spent. Yes, there are usually budgets, but the use of the money is not actually decided until the money is spent.
Do we see anything like this in Scripture?
Well, there are at least two instances of believers pooling their money. (Felicity points out these passages, among others, in her post.):
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. (Acts 4:34-35 ESV)
Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. (1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ESV)
In each of these cases, believers were pooling their money together. But, they were doing so for a particular reason: to help those in need.
They did not store the money and decide later how to spend it. And, more importantly, they did not spend it on themselves – even for “ministry” purposes. The money was give to people who were in need.
This is quite different than the way that money is used in the church today.