Category Archives: tithing

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

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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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

  • 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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Sunday Recap

I need to change the title of these updates on Mondays.  I know. 

  • I preached about the presentation of Christ in the Temple Sunday.  I think it went well.  It is not a Scripture that most Protestant churches use.  I thought it was important to note that Christ will divide people.  He always has and will until He returns.  Those of us who serve Jesus find out fast that our friends and families generally take the opposite view of Jesus and reject Him.  I also noted that the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus through God’s Word and obedient people and that those who seek Redemption should be told the Good News. 
  • We had 53 people again!  Praise the Lord!  This is significant because we have been averaging over 50 since the November.  This is also tough since our sanctuary only seats approximately 48 comfortably! 
  • At some point we will have to do something about the seating if we intend to grow.  And, I do. 
  • Smith Chapel continues to be the norm by weekly demonstrating that “regular” attendees come 2 Sundays a month.  I heard that stat from a peer and cannot verify it.  But it sounds about right. 
  • Our nursery is still going well and has been in use since we opened it up a couple of months ago.  It reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams, and the famous line, “Build it, and they will come.” 
  • It was mentioned by a couple of treasurers that if anyone is looking for a place to donate a large sum of money that he or she can give to our church.  I know that this sounds like we are money hungry; and I struggled with it too.  Nevertheless, it is true.  “You have not because you ask not.”  We do have needs at our church and it seems that we should say something once in a while.  I will be preaching about Stewardship next Sunday, but it was already planned.  It should be remembered that God’s people are supposed to be givers.  So if there are needs we need to do our best to take care of them.   
  • I continue to be grateful for our Assistant Pastor Jon Brady.  He does well organizing our services and creating our power points.  Good job Jon!
  • We ended up Sunday night at Taco Bell with some of our youth.  I miss being a youth pastor sometimes.  Teenagers are fun, but can also be a handful.  Yet, if this ministry is going well it is the most rewarding. 

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Another minister illustrates the sacrifice of clergy and laity

I have been reading the Padre’s blog for a while now.  Today I came across this post that I think all ministers and laity should consider.  There is tremendous sacrifice and dependency that accompanies giving.  I was thinking about the possibility of preaching about this subject before Christmas at our church.  I generally preach about stewardship in January; and still may.

I think this article is good because it is not me saying it.  So if you know me you will understand that I am always uneasy about teaching or preaching this subject.  I would much rather someone else do it. 

Here is my struggle.  I love our people enough that I want them to know God’s power and will for giving freely.  Yet, I don’t want anyone to think that I am pushing them to do something that appears to benefit me or the church.  Giving benefits the giver for eternity while receiving benefits the recipient for the time being.  Yet, both are taken care of by God.  Both receive from God when people give.  

It is hard to really know the Lord if you do not take part in giving.  I know I may have a comment come in and tell me that I have a poor understanding of God’s love.  Well, I disagree.  God is a Giver.  Giving is the heart of God.  We are  to be imitators of Christ who freely gave.   

Now, everyone can see from this article what type of faith some of us live by.  I have had to live by faith in God first, and in God’s people being obedient second.  This is where the rubber meets the road as a Christian as far as I am concerned.  Faith in God who can supply our needs grows and matures us when we must rely upon Him.  Yet, many who are financially comfortable and don’t give much struggle to learn about God’s heart of giving and sacrifice. 

I will be writing soon about sacrifice too.  Because sacrifice is not just for the missionary or the third world person.  God calls us all to sacrifice.  I would invite you to meditate about sacrifice and giving during this time of the year that spend money upon those who already have it and neglect those who don’t. 

God bless.

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