According to a recent article by CBS news, drivers of new cars are now paying an average of $700-800 per month toward a car payment, with nearly 15% paying more than $1,000 per month. Even 5% of used car buyers are paying north of $1,000. Some of that is driven by recent inflation, some by supply disruptions, and some by the rising interest rates that borrowers have to pay. It won’t be long, I suppose, before most people will be financing cars at $1,000 monthly. If they are financing multiple cars—look out!
I have lived long enough to remember when my older brother drove home in a brand-new Volkswagen Beetle, for which he paid $1995. That was around 1970. That means he bought a car for the equivalent of two monthly payments today. His decision was to work for a while right out of high school, save his money, buy a car, then enroll in college with funds to pay for much of it.
Buying a car is one example of the change in prices over the years. Food, houses, education and vacations have all gone up. One other thing has gone up—ministry! If it costs more for you, it costs more for your church family. Candles, crayons, preachers, utilities, insurance, and copy paper have risen over time—some of them substantially.
Fortunately, the scripture has a plan for managing our giving in situations like this. It is called proportional giving. It is called tithing. That means whatever you receive, you give a percentage of that to God’s causes. Using a tithe as an example, giving 10% of your income costs you no more now than it did in 1970. The inflated dollars may be higher (as is your paycheck), but it feels like the same amount of your income given.
This is why tithing, and proportional giving, is good stewardship. It keeps us on the path of generosity without needing a calculator. In good and bad times we are generous according to what we have, not what we used to have, or what we wish we had. I invite you to make such a decision today. Choose a percentage. Work toward a tithe. Give thanks you are able to give. Then, be sure to rejoice in the work of your congregation.
For more information about stewardship and the care of money, contact us here or call us toll free at 877-391-8811.
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Director of Development
United Methodist Foundation of Indiana