Dennis and Ann Crowder are unwavering in their commitment to tithing. Dennis recalls being taught to tithe any money he received as a young boy (allowance and birthday money included). As newlyweds, even when finances were tight, the first check written was the tithe check— a practice that is still true today. Nearly 55 years later, the Crowders share the same commitment. Stewarding your money well has no minimum age or minimum salary.
This season of life, however, has them considering how they might continue to be faithful stewards even after they are gone. The Crowders found their answer in estate planning.
At Liberty Baptist Church in the 1970s, farmers tithing their estate made a lasting impression on the Crowders. Decades later, during their pastorate at First Baptist Church of Waynesville, Dennis and Ann saw the significance of an estate plan firsthand. Tragically, two men in their congregation passed away with nothing in order; their families suffered greatly. Serving on the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board at the time, Dennis turned to fellow board member and estate planning attorney Chris Allen for help. With offices in Lebanon and Waynesville, Missouri, Allen was able to present estate planning to the church while serving as the Crowders’ personal estate planning attorney.
“My job is to match the correct estate planning tool to the client’s wishes and needs,” says Allen. For the Crowders, the best legacy planning tool was to tithe on their estate. “To tithe in your estate plan is to give a tenth of your entire estate at death to the Kingdom of God in some way,” explains Allen.
The Crowders’ estate plan designates 10% of their estate to be split among Southwest Baptist University, Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, and Baptist Homes and Healthcare Ministries. All three entities hold personal significance for the Crowders, spanning all seasons of life. Supporting the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats is a family affair, with two of their three children joining Dennis and Ann as alumni. Growing up, birthday offerings were always given to the Children’s Home, and anniversary offerings to the Baptist Homes, where Dennis’ mother and grandmother were residents. Generosity to these entities is woven throughout decades of the Crowders’ ministry.
Their legacy of giving does not stop there. By modeling stewardship for their family, their young kids would proudly place envelopes in the offering plate. “If tithing is important for adults, it’s got to be important to teach the kids,” says Dennis. Now, as adults, the Crowder children are responsible for tithing 10% of what they receive from their parents’ estate.
Not only does their estate plan provide a guideline for their children, but it enables the Crowders to continue their faithful giving for Kingdom impact. Such commitment is not dependent upon a dollar amount. “We don’t consider ourselves rich. Some days we’re poor,” says Dennis. Rather than look solely at their bank account, the Crowders looked at what they have— their home, the acreage it sits on, and the improvements they’ve made over the years. As they completed construction 12 years ago, the Crowders hadn’t considered they were building their biggest asset that will benefit ministry organizations after their lifetime.
This legacy of giving is not accomplished through a one-time mass donation or revolutionary genius. But rather, as the Crowders have seen, being consistently faithful with little. “Remember the widow’s mite,” says Ann. “God can do a lot with a little.”
If you are interested in having an estate plan that leaves something to Advance the Gospel, the Missouri Baptist Foundation is eager to serve you in the process. Please contact us at 573-761-0717 or email@example.com.