Category Archives: Giving

Where does the money go?

On the FaceBook newsfeed I’ve seen several articles and videos about where the money goes in mega-churches.  It must be part of a capital campaign, or trying to answer questions since Mars Hill in Seattle is having cutbacks take place, and etc.  It is a great question because even though I’m a pastor, I can imagine having the same question if I was a member in the church too.

First I want to applaud some of the mega-churches for giving the statistics about where the money goes.  Openness is paramount in my opinion when dealing with money.  Many of these churches have been secretive in the past, but some are being transparent and that helps when ministry is being performed in a suspicious climate.

I would like to offer another idea about where the money goes from a small church pastor’s perspective.  I have been in ministry for a while now and I’ve seen various moves, or fads, within The Church.  I’ve learned that people are a bit fickle when it comes to commitment to a particular Body of Christ.  In fact, people are very migratory.  In other words, people seem to only commit to 2 to 3 years in one church.  Then, something better comes along and they are gone.

This really isn’t an article about church attendance as much as it is about commitment.  After all, there are consequences when commitments are broken.  While poor church attendance is frustrating, it simply just keeps things from moving quicker.  Therefore, I would like to share some of these consequences to leaving the small local community church.

For starters, when Christians become migratory by leaving their community church because of age on the facility, preferred style of music, because of problems with the people in the church, or because the pastor is not someone they want to follow, there is impact to the church that has been left.  In addition, there is impact on the community that the church is in.  Plus, it is helpful to remember that relationships and problems are easily worked out by those who love Jesus; but that is another article.

Consider that for whatever reason, someone simply leaves a local congregation and attends a church out of town.  When this happens they take their financial resources with them; not to mention their manpower.  Furthermore, they take their influence with them too.  In fact, they join the vision of the pastor who may be in another community that has nothing to do with the community they live in.  This causes the local church, when enough people un-commit, to go into a type of survival mode.  I am aware that many “super leaders” in The Church would say that this is poor leadership.  Yet, it will take time to re-calibrate the vision he had for the community; if he or she had one.  Besides, the people the pastor believed were behind him or her are now no longer available.  It takes time to for a small church to replace them.

This matters because we could assume that God has that church planted in its particular community so that church could be a blessing to the people in that community.  For instance, their ministries cannot be accomplished within the community that God has placed these local churches.  This leaves people to wonder, “Where does the money go?”  After all, the money shortfall stalls the ministry to the community from moving forward.  The answer may be that the money that God gave His people who live in their community to bless and finance ministries that meet needs of people has gone into the large productions of mega-churches that are in other communities.

I should note that often I talk to believers from the community who tell me how they desire to see God do something in the community that they used to attend church.  These people will encourage me and still have the expectation that I have an assignment, but these continue to be non-participants in God’s redemptive purpose for their community.  Yet, they will travel out of town on Sundays.

Recently, a non-denominational ministry that is designed to reach kids before they are 14, ran out of money because the churches within Liberty, my local community, were not able to give enough financially for the ministry to operate.  As of now, it is operating; thank The Lord.  Yet, why is it so hard to finance that ministry?  It seems it could be argued that God’s people refuse to remain committed to the Body of Christ, that likely, The Holy Spirit placed them in.  What is worse, the local Body of Christ that they left is now stumbling and cannot move forward in a way that benefits the community.  The resources were there to meet those needs until many Christians became migratory and went to a comfortable environment that was more pleasing.

Obviously, there are “experts,” or expert debaters out there who  may be able to dispute my observations.  Yet, the fact remains, as a small church pastor, I ask, “Where does the money go?”  Once I begin the process of speculating, as I am now, I can’t help but come to this type of conclusion.  Once I reach this conclusion my next question is, “Why do people blow off the local church for the mega-church setting so readily?”  Guess who is usually contacted to go see the sick and dying.  You guessed it.  The pastors who are left in survival mode.  Many do not realize that one day this service won’t be readily available if the migrations continue; but that is another article too.

I think what is amazing is that Christians have not stopped to ask, once they are part of their new churches, a couple of questions: “Where does the money I give go?”  And, “How does my giving at this new church help my community 15-30 miles away?”  It’s amazing how much vision a local community pastor can have.  It’s also amazing how little is accomplished in the community because the manpower and finances have left the community.

In my community it is not just my small church that experiences the consequences of migration from one church to another.  It actually is close to the same from church to church.  If my opinion is close to right.  then, what type of answer will many of these Christians have to the question Jesus will likely as about faithfulness with what He gave to so that they could bless their community?  Or, does it really matter?

This was not a scientific approach and very well may be mere opinion.  Yet, in the local church that desires to serve the community, one has to ask, “What is the motive for the exodus from small churches to mega-churches outside of the community?”  Somehow it seems Christians have an agenda and God has one too.  They don’t seem the same.

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church Health, Giving, Leadership, Megachurch, Pastor, Small Church, tithing, Vision

Continuing with Jesus

Here are some quick thoughts about continuing with Jesus.  A lot of Christians tend to become discouraged with a lot things they deal with on a repeated basis.  Over the course of time, which sometimes seems to weed out the “chaff,” people fall away from Christ.  These some thoughts that I hope will make sense to you if you are one of those people who is struggling to continue on.    

  • Do not count on other Christians to lift you up when you fall into a downcast state.  That is what Jesus wants to do for you. 
  • Seek God’s approval.  Do not look for someone’s approval so that you can be blessed.  Going with Christ means seeking His blessing alone. 
  • When looking for direction, do not seek it from other people first.  Pray that the Spirit will reveal direction to you. 
  • When giving effort, do so to please your Heavenly Father.  People cannot look into your heart like your God can.
  • Do not busy yourself with ‘religious work.’  Spend time alone God.
  • Do not allow situations to discourage you.  Trust that God is working things out for your good. 
  • Do not allow unconverted people to frustrate you.  Realize that they still need Jesus. 
  • Know that there is not anything that wastes your time.  God does not waste anything.
  • When someone tries to convince you of a major life decision that you should make, always think back to what God told you first. 
  • Know that it is normal to struggle over dying to yourself on daily basis. 
  • Trust and obey God.  Do this even when it goes against everything that you feel during a crucial moment.      
  • Focus on giving worship, great worth, to Christ.  Do not look to recieve all of the time.  Giving is the seed of recieving. 
  • Draw a line in the sand and do not go beyond it spiritually.  Commit to staying with Christ no matter what. 

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Filed under Discouragement, Faith, Giving, Worship

Sunday Recap

Sunday was awesome!  God moved and people responded!  So here is the recap.

  • I took my part in preaching the Encounters Series.  I spoke about Caiaphas rejecting God’s Will.  The Scripture that I used was Mark 11:15-19, 27-33.  Because Caiaphas was ultimately in charge of the Temple, here are three things that he rejected; right worship; caring for others, and God’s Authority.  The problem with worship was that the Jews were not keeping God’s Temple Holy.  The priests had a scam for money going in the Temple.  They were selling pre-approved animals for sacrifice.  The priests rejected that Jesus is the Lamb of God and therefore, rejected His judgment upon the Temple.  Caiaphas was finally persuaded officials that Jesus should be put to death as the ultimate rejection. I asked three What if . . . questions.  What if Christians did not reject right worship of Christ?  What would The Church look like?  What if Christians did not take advantage of others, but really cared?  What would The Church look like?  What if Christians really accepted God’s Authority?  How would we live our lives?  What would The Church look like? 
  • We had 45.  This is discouraging. 
  • We had around 7 come to the altar to move closer to Christ.  This is awesome!  Praise the Lord!
  • I noticed a sincerity in several to win others to Christ.  This is encouraging. 
  • Giving was up. 
  • I pointed out that most Christians give 10% of their income.  The problem with this is that many Christians limit God to just 10% of their income.  What I mean is that they only allow God to God of that much, and they limit His Authority to only the financial aspect of their lives.  Because we don’t want Him to have access to the other 90% of our income.  We also don’t want God to have access to our time and personal lives.  This is the danger of paying 10%.  We clear our minds of any other responsibilities.  Many think, “I’ve done my part.”  Yet, the question remains, “Have you really?”  I think that God is interested in more than money. 
  • Sunday night was mediocre.  We split into men’s and women’s groups.  The men talked about Holiness.  What does it mean to have the mind of Christ? 
  • As I look back at Sunday, I think it was a good time of worship.  Yet, I see that it was not good enough.  We must, as a church, begin to deliberately win Sunday back.
  • I think Sunday has been lost to recreation, relaxation, and retailization.  I had to have another R.  People, let me tell you straight.  God knows if you are really His or not. 
  • If you are cutting church without a legitimate reason, then you are missing the mark.  Please do not respond to this post that you can be a Christian without going to church.  I don’t think so.  Unless you are in a country that does not allow you to.  That talk just makes me tired.  I bet when we all get to Heaven people will enjoy being in a worship service with each other. 
  • Finally, thank you Lord for new believers.  Amen. 

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church news, Giving, Living it, tithing, Worship

Christian giving in tough economic times

I have written several posts about the importance of tithing and giving above normal tithe.  I have a few thoughts about giving during these tough economic times.  First, we are still required to give during this time of economic hardship.  This is where God builds our faith so that we can understand that we are to trust Him for all that we need. 

Today I had the opportunity to give another we besides monetarily.  I drove to our local Blook Connection and donated blood.  This is a great way that we can practice Christian stewardship.  Yes, I believe that we are supposed to manage God’s resources.  So if we are in Christ, and our bodies are the Temples of The Holy Spirit, then our blood is His.  This means that it is a resource that we can give so that others can have life.  Christians you should be doing this too. 

Wait, before you say that you are scared of needles, you should know that I am too.  The nurse laughed at me today when I looked straight up as she stuck me.  It doesn’t hurt as bad as we think it does.  You can do it too. 

While at The Blood Connection I noticed that there are other ways to give too.  You can give plasma.  I found out that plasma is needed for burn victims.  Here are some of the reasons that you should consider donating plasma.

Now, there are many people who have seen those commercials of children fighting different types of cancer asking for financial help.  If you are like me, you may try to figure out how to budget some money so that you can help.  Yet, you may not have the resources to do this.  A good alternative to giving financially to those who are fighting cancer is to give platelets.  Cancer patients need platelets and The Blood Connection said they need 50 platelets a day.  That averages out to 50 donors a day.  Now, this will take a little longer than simply giving blood.  You will need and hour and a half.  You can give platelets a little more frequently than whole blood.   

Those who desire to be missional to their communities should consider how they can help meet the needs of all who are victims whether of disease, or any other trauma.   

Giving these types of God’s resources only requires that you care, are not looking for recognition, love others as your self, and able to sacrifice/steward God’s time.  Plus, you get free cupcakes and soda.  And, if you are a husband, you don’t have to do any strenuous work around the house for the day.  This means that your wife will have to allow you to relax so that you blood can begin to build back up.   

My advice is that we should all do our part while we are healthy.  Because a day may come that we will be those who are in need too.  Plus, I think God is glad when we do.

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Filed under Donating blood, Giving, Missional Resources, tithing

Sunday Recap

  • Yesterday there were approximately 51 in attendance.  Some are sick and have various health problems.  So this is not bad. 
  • Sunday school only had 31 people.  I just want to remind everyone, again, that this is the best time to learn.  Or, be in a small group.
  • We started our series “Survey Says . . .”  Pastor Jon and I handed out a ballot with several different topics to choose from about what everyone would like to learn about on Sunday morning.  The winning topics are, What is the difference between Baptists and Wesleyans.  Why don’t I get along with other people.  Heaven and Hell.  And, What does it mean to be a Covenant Member of The Wesleyan Church.
  • The first topic that I tackeled yesterday was the difference between Baptists and Wesleyans.  Here are 3 doctrinal differences between both. 

1) The Church.  Baptist churches are autonoumous.  They are able to govern themselves and can establish each churches core beliefs.  There is not one church over another.  These local churches are led by the church board and pastor.  The pastor cannot be a woman.  However, women are recognized as having gifts for ministries besides pastoring churches.  This information was according to the Southern Baptist Convention.  I compared other Baptist churches associated with the SBC and found that they are not all alike.  Some beliefs listed on the SBC web site were listed while others were excluded.  Wesleyans are a denomination.  In other words, we submit to governing authority.  We also believe that women can be pastors.  Both sides have their Scriptures so keep that in mind.  This includes government at the local, district, and general levels.  Each Wesleyan church has the same doctrine without variation; at least on paper.  Wesleyans also see The Church as including those who in Heaven.  I think that is awesome.  I may share thoughts about this later, but consider how special it is to take Communion with this in mind. 

2) Regeneration, also known as “The New Birth” is a looked at differently by Baptists and Wesleyans.  Regeneration, according to the wording on the SBC web page, seems to suggest that new birth precedes faith and repentance.  There are some Scriptures that support both views.  The Baptists use John 3:3, and Wesleyans use John 1:12-13.  There more for both sides but I will not list them here. 

3) Salvation includes, for the SBC,  regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification this is in the broadest sense.  Wesleyans include justification, regeneration, adoption, and witness of the Spirit.   

4) Wesleyans have one distinctive doctrine.  We beleive in Sanctification as a second work of grace.  This is the work by which the Holy Spirit cleanses inbred sin.  In other words, God changes our desire to sin, so that we desire not to sin.  The Baptists believe that this occurs all at once, likely because of how they see the Regeneration process.  We have Scripture for this second work of grace.  I will post links at the bottom of this post. 

5) Baptists have another distinctive, and more popular I might add, doctrine.  They believe in Eternal Security.  This simply means that you can never lose your salvation.  The Wesleyans disagree with this and believe that each individual, because of choice and neglect, can fall into sin and be in danger without repentance. 

These are what I beleive the major differences between the 2 camps.  Therefore, in my opinion, I don’t see these issues as the great dividers that they many people seem to make them to be.  Elmer Towns once said that extremists on both sides are dangerous.  I agree with him.  So if you are struggling to decide between Wesleyan or Baptist, then I say find that church that is truly serving Jesus Christ by caring for others and giving.  Whether or not it is Baptist or Wesleyan is not really a big difference.  I think both sides would agree that it is important to seek salvation from Jesus Christ and truly live for Him. 

I am a Wesleyan pastor who is at ease with somebody in my family going to a Baptist church.  On the other hand, I would be uneasy if they attended a church, Baptist or Wesleyan, that continually preached doctrine instead of proper exegesis of the Holy Bible. 

The Wesleyan Church beliefs

The Southern Baptist Convention beliefs

A site that compares the 2

  • We had our Saturday hot dog community dinner this week.  We had some who do not attend our church come.  But that is not why it was a success.  It was a success because our Wesleyan Men went out and invited most of the people who live close by to come and gave them a paper with our church name on it.  This paper will let them know that we are not hiding from the community.  We are here and want to establish a relationship with them.  It will take time. 
  • The dinner is one way that we are turning around as a church.  Because this was a lay driven ministry.  This means that the people in our church are becoming less satisfied to just attend church.  They are desiring to be the hands and feet of Christ.  The culture within our church is changing!
  • The treasurer gave me a total of the tithes that were brought in for the month of January.  We were down about $250 a week.  I preached about tithing in January twice.  Either it is an oversight by some.  Or, it people are withholding because they are upset, or because of the economy.  If you are a Christian listen for a second, God is going to test your faith in this economy period.  If you withhold because of being upset with a pastor or a church, beware.  God takes that as you disobeying Him.  Some have questioned me about where tithing is in the NT.  Well, long story short, Jesus said give “All that you have.”  So, tithing is one way that we keep Christ first in our lives. 
  • The key to tithing is this; if you are giving to a church, remember it is not you that keeps the church going.  God supplies the needs of the church; and yours too.  Giving is designed to help your faith.  It is a biblical command.  So obey God.   

I think that we are on the right track as a church.  So continue to look for good things.  God bless.

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church Health, Church news, Faith, Giving, Holiness, The Southern Baptist Church, The Wesleyan Church, Women in leadership

Sunday Recap

  • Good worship during AM service.
  • 50 in attendance with many “regulars” MIA.
  • Sermon series It’s time to . . .”  Title: Glorify God by Giving. Text: 2 Corinthians 9.  God is glorified when: Giving demonstrates righteousness, Giving demonstrate equality while caring for others, Giving sets an example.  Why?  When the church does not use God’s resources properly and never gives to those in need, God’s Image is at stake.
  • Sunday school was full of younger people.  47 in attendance.
  • PM service; Wesleyan Men and Wesleyan Women met.
  • Wesleyan Men want to be on mission to serve the community and made real plans to do so.  This is what Jesus desires His church to do.  Take care of those in need so that He is glorified and those who receive His care through us are built up in faith.
  • It was important Sunday to know that when we give in response to what is laid upon our hearts that God is likely answering prayer for the person needs it.  As a matter fact,  it may simply be a need being for the person who does not even know that he or she has a need.  God knows what we have need of before we even ask for it.
  • Our nursery was full again Sunday morning.  Praise the Lord!  We rapidly becoming shorthanded for nursery attendants and Sunday school teachers.

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Sunday Recap

  • Good morning and evening worship.
  • We had 44-45 people for AM worship.  I hope this is not going to be the norm untile Easter.  We are still missing 15 or so people each week.  It may be sickness, vacations, or good old fashioned cutting service. 
  • I started a new series called It’s time to . . . and the title of the message was Develop a New Attitude toward Giving.  The Scripture was 1 Chronicles 29:8-18.  There were three principles that needed to be understood to develop a new attitude toward giving; joyful giving, everything is God’s, and God tests the hearts. 
  • It was very quiet in the sanctuary during this sermon.  Why is so hard to give to God’s work and back to Him what is already His?  I believe that this is the closet in our hearts that needs to be cleansed by the Holy Spirit.  We are fine following other Christian disciplines except when it is time to give.  We don’t like it.  We don’t enjoy it.  We think we can’t afford it.  Yet, we cannot afford not to give. 
  • In our PM service we had a great discussion about this article.  Questions to ponder were what should we pass down to our children?  A building or faith?  What is more important to God?  People or a church building?  What is the church?  A building or those who have surrendered to Christ?  Are churches supposed to be monuments or lives that are sold out to Christ?  Does it matter who builds the church?  Should the church be built by humans or God?  And, do those who build the church run it? 
  • One of the points in our discussion was whether or not God wants His churches to flee urbanization or stay and minister to the community.  I wrote about the modern day Rapture of the Church a while back.  It was about churches who flee their responsibility to the people. 
  • If you attend church, you should know that I believe that we will give an account for what we did not do for the Lord.  In other words, if we do not minister to the “least of these,” this will be a problem.  Jesus said, “Depart from Me, for I never knew you” to those who do not do this. 

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Filed under Church Attendance, Church Health, Church news, Giving, tithing