Q: Should money designated for synod be withheld until the home church needs are met?”
A: In answer, one might wish to poll the treasurers of our synod churches. Everyone knows there are times when it may be virtually impossible for a congregation to submit its monthly offering to synod because of a drastic shortfall in total offerings and the need to cover home expenses. It is good advice, however, for a congregation to make an earnest effort in meeting the synod commitment, even when there is concern for making ends meet at the local level. Churches that have a healthy attitude in prioritizing support for the broad work of the synod usually find they will not fall short on the home front either. The reason for this is: When congregational funds for all purposes fall short, it seems easier for churches to obtain extra gifts for local purposes (for needs seen directly) than for meeting a synod budget.
The example the church sets by sending in monthly or quarterly offerings for synod should not be underestimated. The Corinthians were reminded by the Apostle Paul how their promised generosity for helping the poor Christians in Jerusalem served as a boost to the church at large. “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (2 Corinthians 9:12,13).
It’s important for the churches of our Evangelical Lutheran Synod to be reminded again and again of the great opportunities we have to share the message of Christ with others: foreign mission work, establishing new home missions, training pastors and teachers at Bethany Lutheran Seminary, supporting our Bethany Lutheran College, doing youth work, producing teaching materials, etc. What a privilege to be part of a like-minded confessional church body in presenting the pure saving grace of our Lord to those still in darkness!