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At the risk of letting my right hand know what my left hand is doing, I will state here openly that our family regularly gives a non-zero amount of dollars to our church. I have proof of this, because recently our church sent out to all of its givers their quarterly Contribution Statements. And on it, a sentence caught my eye:

No goods or services were provided in exchange for your contributions, other than intangible religious benefits.

Now it’s clear in the Bible that all (or nearly all?) church attenders should give to their church and we do this, to some degree, because we feel to do otherwise would be an act of disobedience. We are also desiring to contribute to the spreading of the glory of God. But the phrase “intangible religious benefits” made me think.

And it gave me joy – because our family does indeed receive many religious benefits as a result of our church attendance, and (don’t tell the IRS) some of them are just barely ‘intangible’.

Have you considered these?

Catastrophic Coverage

We pay serious money for various forms of insurance in case of great loss. But as I consider possible traumatic sudden losses that could happen to our family at any time, none of them are as valuable to me as the knowledge of the great support our family will receive from many families in our church, as it has in the past many times over, if our family did suffer great loss. We have felt the love of God through meals brought to us, and being uplifted in prayer, and many, many words of encouragement. We have been a part of supporting others in difficult times. The value of this (both giving and receiving) is great.

Consulting Confirmation

If my wife and I were going this alone, our kids might have great reason to doubt our theology, or our understanding of the Gospel, or our belief in the existence of God. But each Sunday they hear a sermon from a respected pastor, and then they hear a lesson from a Sunday school teacher. At other times they hear the singing voices of people in our small group. And they learn from mentors and youth group leaders. And all of them are more or less in agreement with what we’ve taught them. There is benefit here.

Correction Certainty

It is possible that one day either or I, or my wife, or one of my kids will stray from God, or away from the gospel, or away from life-giving, fruit-bearing Christ-centered behavior. Out of ignorance or informed disobedience, we might move in a direction outside the will of God in an outward way. If that happens, I know that there will be concern from people in my church, and then prayerful consideration, and then they will, in imperfect but loving ways, approach the family member with warning, direction and biblical counsel. I’ve seen it happen, and I’m counting on it.

Caring Community

Much of our lives, there are situations and concerns, big and small, that are pressing on our hearts, making us fearful, or confused. When we walk out into the commons area of our church after a service, or when we’re having prayer request time in our small group, if there is something we need to talk through with someone outside our family, there they are. Willing to listen and promising prayer, or praying right there on the spot. Giving suggestions. Weeping with those who are weeping and rejoicing with those who are rejoicing. There are times that it’s very important to talk things through and church is a resource making this possible.

Continual Cross

Perhaps the most important truth in the world is “God made a way, through the work of His Son, for you to be with Him.” This truth, as explained in His word, is not only important in showing us the way, but in giving us a right long-term moral, spiritual, and mindful mindset. So, it’s not just a truth to accept and move on from, but it’s a way of thinking that gives us joy and direction throughout life. And our family can hardly spend fifteen minutes in our church without experiencing reminders of this path, this salvation, this Gospel. And the reminder keeps us motivated to stay on the path towards Jesus.

I know that when deciding whether to give to a church, we shouldn’t feel it necessary to do a cost/benefit analysis. But for us, it’s certain the benefits outweigh the costs. I hope you go to a church and I hope you’re finding these benefits at your place of worship. This is certainly not a complete list (I started to run out of C-words), and maybe you could suggest more. Honestly, I don’t know how non-attenders live without them.

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Here is my post linking to all the posts in this “Why I do this” series of posts.

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