I do need some advice concerning donations. We are working with our community by giving away clothes, books, etc.. that are in fairly good condition to those who are in need. We do not require any money from them to purchase it, but I was wondering if they are willing to give a donation to the church would it be wrong to accept this. Based on the fact that collections are on the first day on the week as what God requires. Just wanted to get some thoughts. We are however continuing with the free market, but we are not accepting donations.

I believe that a part of your difficulty stems from mixing commands given to individual Christians with those given to the church. There is a difference. See I Timothy 5:1-16 for one example. "If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows" (I Timothy 5:16). Thus, when you look at commands, you must examine them to see if this was a command to an individual to preform because he is a Christian or is it given to the church to be preformed as a group.

In the area of benevolence, if you list out each command, you soon see a pattern. Churches used their funds to support the spreading of the Gospel and to help needy saints in times of disaster (II Corinthians 8-9). Individual Christians are given a broader command to do good as they have opportunity (Galatians 6:9-10; James 1:27). Because of this, I would urge Christians who want to do community service to do it as Christians and not in the name of the local church. A Christian ought not to off-load a command given to him onto the church and then somehow think he is fulfilling his duty to the Lord.

Members of a local congregation are expected to voluntarily give a portion of their prosperity to aid the congregation in its work. An example of this is found in I Corinthians 16:1-2, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come." Though the amount is voluntary, notice that the fact that contributions are collected is by command (Paul had "given orders"). These collections are to take place on the first day of each week and held in a treasury until used.

While this is expected of members of a congregation, it should not be sought from non-members. Every once in a while, La Vista receives a gift from someone not connected with the congregation. Where we are able, we will contact the giver to explain that such gifts are not being sought. But if the giver insists, we will add it to the funds so long as no strings are attached. For example, we will refuse a gift where someone states "I want you to use this to plant a tree on the church property in memory of my father." It would not be right for an individual to dictate to the church how its money is spent (Acts 5:4), let alone taking direction from a non-member.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Benevolence
Questions and Answers regarding Contributions
Questions and Answers regarding the Church