Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 28, 1951

Is It Right To Pledge?

Charles E. Crouch, Birmingham, Alabama

The real question is, Do we have Bible authority for asking Christians to sign individual pledges, stating the amount they will give to the church each Lord's day, in order that the elders may plan their work?

It is true that a congregation must plan its work ahead, whether we call it our plans, purposes, or budget. It is necessary to make promises toward benevolent, missionary, and other causes. The New Testament teaches this. (2 Cor. 8 and 9) If a congregation promises to pay a builder for a meeting house he is to construct for them, it has planned or budgeted to this extent. But this is the promise of a congregation, and the elders always have past and current contributions as a basis for planning such work.

It is not true however that we have scriptural proof or precedent for making individual pledges to the elders. The promise of which Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 9:5 is the promise of a congregation, not of an individual. He urged the church in Corinth to fulfill its promise to help the poor saints. (2 Cor. 8:10-12) To get this done he urged "every man' to give "according as he hath purposed in his heart.' (2 Cor. 9:7) There is no record here of any individual pledge other than that made "in his heart.' The congregation in Corinth simply promised to help some poor saints, in response to Paul's request, which was, 'as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.' (1 Cor. 16:1) To meet this promise the apostle advised, not individual pledges to the elders, but, every man to give "on the first day of the week," "as he may prosper,' and "according as he hath purposed in his heart.' This is the Lord's way of giving, and he loves cheerful givers. If this way of raising money is used the congregation will be able to meet its promises, or budget and there will be no giving "of necessity." Any method used which applies human pressure in the place of divine teaching to encourage Christians to give, always destroys the cheerfulness of giving, and is therefore unscriptural.