What Are Some Considerations About Leaving My Church a Large Sum in My Will?

Question from a reader:

Mr. Alcorn, I recently read an article you wrote about inheritances. As I read, I asked myself, should I leave most of my financial resources to the local church? I’m skeptical because from the budgets I’ve seen from several churches, it appears the majority of the funds go towards staff salaries, or support buildings, or support programs in the local church. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a church annual budget go to missionaries, widows, or children who are fatherless. Besides your ministry, would you have any suggestions of kingdom-minded ministries where one might leave financial wealth?

Answer from Stephanie Anderson, EPM staff:

I’m responding on Randy’s behalf. A few thoughts came to mind when I read your message.

I know you’re asking about inheritances, but some advice Randy gives to believers about tithing might be applicable. Sometimes believers say, “I don’t want my money to pay the water or garbage bill; I want it to go 100 percent to evangelism.” Randy points out that the “ordinary” and necessary expenses of running a church must be supplied, too, and entrusting money to your local church implies a trust in how leaders will use those funds, including for the less glamorous parts of ministry. Of course, we hope those leaders use the funds wisely and in a way that honors God (which sadly, isn’t automatically true). Randy writes, “If I still cannot in good conscience give regularly and substantially to my church, perhaps it’s time to ask God for help finding a church where I can give as He has directed.”

Sometimes larger funds left to a church present a temptation to leadership or cause other difficulties. Randy has talked with Christian professional athletes who want to tithe, but the usual advice of giving 10% to their local church would represent a very large sum, which could potentially harm rather than help the church. In those cases, Randy has advised them to split their tithe between the church and various other worthy para-church organizations.

Perhaps you could consider leaving a set amount to your church that you feel good about, then direct the remaining funds to other ministries that God has placed on your heart. It sounds like that is the direction you are leaning. This list on our website would be an excellent place to start with researching organizations.

If you are still looking for additional support and counsel, we suggest finding a financial advisor through Kingdom Advisors.

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Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.