I hate when people say all the church wants is my money. Or when people say that you got to give God something in order to receive blessings in return. Have you ever heard the church asking for money in such a way that it gives you a shooting pain behind your eyeball? You probably have and if you are not rooted in the church it probably turned you off. Even being a Pastor at a church it turns me off.
This past week I have been pondering Stewardship and giving. It all started when I heard that KLOVE was doing their annual pledge drive. I understand that they do not do commercials and are donor supported. BUT how do we ask for money and why? It is usually during their pledge periods that I turn the station until it passes. Simply because some of the illustrations that they use cause me to cringe. Many of them revolve around the the idea that if we give to the station, God will bless them back. That someone gave in faith and “BLAM” something happens. Granted I do believe that God can do and will do whatever God’s will is. But still we perpetuate the vendor mentality of God. That if you give, then you will receive. If we look at the book of Matthew:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?- Matthew 6:25-27 (NIV)
We need to realize that God takes care of us despite ourselves. That God gives, and gives abundantly. Many times it is not exactly what we want, but we are cared for. Simply by giving an extra $50 will God open the treasure chest and your life will be so much better. You and I are valuable to God and we are taken care of.
There is also a perception that we view people entering our churches as “giving units”. That if we bring in so many people we can continue to operate as we have been. Or as members move on (in many ways) we need to offset their giving by bringing in new members. Too often I hear rumblings that “All we want is people’s money”. In some sense that is true. The lights, heating, repairs, and programs have to be paid for. Without members giving how would we continue? When we begin to look at people in the church as dollar signs to continue the church’s way of life we lose focus. When evangelism is not about bringing people into a deep understanding of the grace that God has given them… we miss the point. When programs become more about the church’s members entertainment, then its core focuses than we have missed the point. In giving we are responding and giving back to God what is not ours… it’s God’s. That is the essence if giving. Giving is not a bill or a fee to be in “the club”, but understanding all of what God has done for us and wanting to give back in some part.
Too often we portray a bad theology of giving. Instead of giving being all about our response to God it becomes all about us. When we are dealing with ministry and money it is important to point it at the right direction. No matter how good the intention is sometimes… we just miss.
I am not a great movie buff. Not sure why. There just seems to be certain moves that I generally gravitate to. They are either heavy action movies such as the MatrixTrilogy’s, and the Die Hard series. I am even one for some extraordinary dramas such as We Are Marshall, The Rookie, Wind, and Invincible.It has been a tradition for a bunch of us from church to see movies that are released at midnight of opening day. Such was the case for Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Transformers, etc. Last night we went to see the opening of the new Batmanmovie and I was blown away. Not only with the action and special effects. Christopher Nolan reached a depth in a movie that I really have not experienced before. At times it reached into the inner core of humanity as one explores the difference between those with moral codes and others without. It left me with a sense of needing to be proactive in life. If we become afraid and unwilling to leave our little box, the potential for what the world can become is diminished. As Batman comes into a world where, evil is allowed to coexist, it is easy to be lulled into a sense of despair and acknowledgement that this how the world is suppose to be. But with the interjection of one character, hope arises. Hmmm sounds sort of theological.
Out of God’s will?
Lack of loyalty?
Is Ed Young talking about me or others like me? This video piece irked me. While I do see where he is coming from the way and wording that he uses bothers me. I have one that has been involved in a New Church Development within the PCUSA. Ed is concerned about members of staffs at some time developing new “church plants” (If you watch the video he uses air quotes, nice). While there does tend to be a vacuum of people that would go with this person, would the term “church pirate” be appropriate. After all the member of one particular church is a member of the kingdom of God rather the 8th Presbyterian Church. That person’s gifts may be valuable to that new church start. A leader cannot merely lick everyone and claim them as theirs. What type of theology is that? I do not know one NCD pastor whose goal it is to take members from churches around them to start another. The desire and passion is ALWAYS for those that are on the outside. It is called having a missional mindset. One that believes that we are to be constantly sent to be part of God’s redemption for the world. We are called, gathered, and SENT. Churches are not holding tanks for people rather a place to equip people to ministry throughout the world that is the basis of trinitarian theology.
Who Ed Young is describing is me in many ways. A staff member that left to be a part of a New Church Development down the road. Was there an initial vacuum to be with me? Of course. Was there enticements for people to join me? NO. Three years down the road how many are still with me? 3. Why? The initial reasons for their leaving was more than my departure. More than that most of those are NOT attending ANY church, and that pains me more.
In the end… I am dissapointed in the words by Ed Young and feeling a little hate about church planting from him. An article that was written in response to this said that Young like church planting… just over there. And that is so true, plant a church as long as it does not effect me or my congregation. What happened to kingdom building?
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God.3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5, NASB)No, not legos, logos (like the icon), but logos (Greek word for The Word). I just finished my Greek final last night and I can actually blog about something that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. Jenn and I lead a Bible Study that is going through the book Discipleship Essentials. We were going through the chapter that described nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. As often as we go on tangents. Like that never happens to you. We were talking about John 1, and how it talks about the logos was there from the beginning and general conversations about that. When out of the blue one woman started talking about Quantum/ String Theory. Huuuh? I said that exactly. But the essence of our discussion was that scientists believe that sound is what binds atoms throughout the universe together. It does not let electrons travel to far apart or something like that. I goes way beyond my comprehension. The theological part is that sound/ word of God, the logos, is what keeps the world together even at its minutest points. We sat there for a second and went whooa.In order to go a little deeper and not read too deeply into a subject that I have no knowledge I went to my Cliff Clavin (Cheers) of knowledge, Donald. This is a bit of what he sent me back:Essentially, according to the theory, everything, from matter, stuff, to energy, light, is made up of very tiny bundles of energy that are called “strings”. These strings are wound up so tight that they vibrate on their own, and how each string vibrates determines what kind of particle it is going to be. Think of it as a string on a violin. When the string on the violin vibrates, it produces a certain sound. Now, change the length of the wire by moving your finger up and down on it and you get a different sound each time. It is the same analogy for these strings of energy, depending on the “frequency” of the vibrating string, you get a proton, or a neutron, or a photon (light), etc.The reason for String Theory or Super String Theory, is to join two major branches of physics together: Quantum Physics, which deals with very tiny things like protons, electrons, etc and very tiny distances, like the distances on the atomic level. The other branch deals with the very large, ie orbits of planets, stars, galaxies, distances between galaxies, etc. For some reason, while both are verifiable proved to be valid in their own respects, when you try to combine them both things get really screwy, complex, and impossible. String Theory attempts to unify both of these branches into a single branch. Aside from the, seemingly, fantastic preposition the theory presents, that everything we can detect and measure is all made up of these very tiny, tiny vibrating strings of energy, the real head banger part comes into play: For this theory to work, there has to be more than three spacial dimensions, you know, x, y,z planes. There has to be 11 dimensions total, 3 large dimensions that we are all familiar with, 1 time dimension, and 7 very, very small dimensions! Not to worry, I won’t get into the details of that!The whole subject is very interesting, despite its complexity in design. The main hurdle for ST so far is that these strings are so small that we cannot possibly be able to detect them directly, so how do we prove their existence if we can never observe them? There are scientists working on indirect ways to prove ST, but we shall have to just wait and see.Not that you’d have time, but if you want to know more information, you can get a book called “The Elegant Universe” by Michael Green. (I think it’s Michael, but I know it’s Green.) He goes over the whole subject of String Theory in a much more understandable and thorough job than I can ever muster. He’s able to explain science things easily much like the way Carl Sagan was able to do.Thanks Donald!