10/24/10

CHURCHES, MONEY & SACRIFICE

Last year I attended a church "mortgage burning" event. It was a big deal...people who were charter members were there, former pastors, conference officials, etc. The current pastor had a few words to say about how they had gotten to that point; how there had been some serious sacrificial giving along the way in order to retire the debt on the building. Some very good points were made...but...

As with most churches (not all, but most) this is a building that is used approximately 10 hours a week. Wednesday nights for a few hours and on the weekend for classes and worship service. Maybe more if there is a special event going on. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases, millions of dollars, for a meeting place that is not utilized to it's fullest potential...this is a waste and very poor stewardship of monetary blessings.

I think about times when I was growing up that my family experienced some hard times financially...the church was strangely absent in our time of need. But when there was a new building program,everyone (including those who had very little) was encouraged to give "sacrificially" under the guise that it was for "God's glory" that we get a new kitchen or new classrooms. I think about times that people have gone hungry under the shadow of a church steeple or grown cold because they couldn't pay their electric bill, while the church down the street had the heat on while there was no one on the premises. "Sacrificial giving" to add on to a church, or increase the space it occupies.(?)

If the church boards were honest with themselves, they would ask the question, "If this church burned to the ground today, would the surrounding community miss it?" Obviously there would be a physical void, but what about a spiritual void or community void? "Sacrificial giving" to what end? Building up a church facility just so we can say, when asked, "Where do you go to church?"..."Oh,I go to that BIG church up on the hill." This is not giving God glory...just a black eye.

Brennan Manning, author of The Ragamuffin Gospel, said, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world is...Christians; who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." "Denying Him by our lifestyle" is far more than engaging in lying, stealing, using pornography or other of the more "obvious" sinful behaviors; to misuse or mishandle the monetary blessings He has provided is just as egregious in His eyes...possibly even more so. Sacrificial giving is only sacrificial if it is what God asks for, not what we think He's asking for.

Think about it.

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