Tag Archives: Christian money

Thoughts about Christianity and Culture.

It seems that our culture has completely rejected God’s Lordship over us. In other words, Western Culture has warred against The Church, and seems to have overcome The Church in defining morality. It is important to say early that The Church will not be defeated. Yet, if we look at Christianity from the historical perspective, and more importantly, from the biblical perspective, we understand that The Church is not immune to suffering and persecution.

It is important to make a quick point here: it is possible that God will allow American Christianity to suffer instead of taking her out the world, or Jesus returning in our lifetime. Now, I am not saying that Jesus is not going to return in our lifetime either, but it might be healthy for Western Christians to consider what may be coming our way. In fact, in my reading of The Bible, it seems to me that Christianity is made up of peculiar people who long for the Return of Christ, not so the world can finally get what it has coming, but so that this world and humanity can be healed and put right. Therefore, it is wise to check our motivation about Christ returning. Additionally, properly motivated is to long for the Return and includes Christians being examples of The Way; Christians, consider this identifier from the book of Acts.

Now, as culture has won the right to openly redefine morality, The Church should now consider how we got here and what our future may look like.

First, for too long, we American Christians have relied on legislators disciple people while we lived high-on-the-hog in our personal lives. This meant that we ignored the crucial expectation of God to be Holy, and ignored the command of Christ to make disciples. After all, who had time to make disciples? We had to pursue our goals in secular society that meant that we needed to completely focus on our jobs first, families second, pleasures third, and if there was time, we might attend an organized church service on Easter. We spent time turning immorality into political issues instead explaining in a spirit of love that certain behaviors and motives are sinful and place people at risk to miss Heaven. All of this while we ignored the poor and those who were born into tough situations of no fault of their own.

Secondly, We spent time pointing fingers at people and judging them even though they were not part of The Church. Yet, all the while we were doing the same things they were, either secretly, or we would simply say proudly, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” So we seemed to try to impact America by saying, “Do as I say, and not as I do.” Listen, this type of attitude toward sin is not going to save anyone from sin; let alone persuade someone that we know The Way. Remember though, we relied on the government to fight for us, and to disciple the population. All of the while, because of this type of attitude, those who do not know the Lord aren’t seeing people who are trying to point them to a better life, but they see people who attack them because the life they found themselves in.

It seems that we Christians better start changing our approach to winning people instead of winning society. We need to quit trying to bull people into living biblically, and start showing them. It seems now, though, there could be a great time of testing that may come upon the American Church. For too long, too many have claimed to be Christians, but in reality sinned as much, if not more, than everyone else.

Testing may come in the form of God allowing Bible “scholars” to redefine morality in a way that embraces political correctness so as to mislead those who are nominal, at best, in regard to faith. Testing may come from certain forms of biblical doctrine becoming illegal to teach. Yet, God still holds us responsible to teach it in spite of what the laws of man read. This alone will hold a great amount of tension for many who try to travel The Way.

How will this happen? Well, nominal faith already exists and many do not attend organized church, many do not read The Bible, and many who claim to be “saved” just go about their lives without regard to what is happening; let alone coming, or what God desires from us corporately and individually. After all, once we have prayed the proper phrase, then God is no longer able, or desires, to hold us accountable for what do and don’t do. Therefore, all that we cared about, self, remains good; no worries.

I am not a prophet, but I really believe that huge changes are coming in how The Church is looked at and is allowed to operate. It seems that we Christians have not realized that we have lost the culture war, or at least we don’t seem to care, and we are not prepared for what Church looks like in the coming years. And, what is worse, all of this while many Americans still claim to be born again, and megachurches continue to spring up and dominate the Christian culture. All of this while salvations are continually claimed, but do nothing to impact our culture, or our churches. Clearly, we need to begin adjusting what we are doing and reexamining our motivation for doing it.

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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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