Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Money stuff.

We had our church annual budget meeting last week. Money is always such a touchy topic when it comes to the church. I get this feeling we spend so much more than we need to, but then I think with the number of people in our church so much should be being given that we can comfortably spend that amount and give even more away.

Consumerism is a pet hate of mine at the moment, especially because I feel so caught up in it. Tithing is part of me trying to break away from my consumerist nature. I always struggled with my weekly offerings, never understanding the necessity of it, or really having a desire to give my money away. Earlier this year we did a night on offering and tithing at youth group, and I decided that I needed to give God a change to teach me through tithing. I looked at my pay check and figured out my 10% before tax and committed to give that each week. To make things easier I decided to just double it and put my offering in each pay week (every 2 weeks).

Through a simple act of giving my money to the church God has taught me so much. I haven’t noticed my bank account missing that amount each fortnight, and I’ve felt that even though I may spend to much money on a pair of sunglasses, if I’m still sticking with my basic tithe I can use it as a basis to combat my compulsive consumerism. This year, as well due to giving my tithe, I’ve also felt more willing to give extra offerings to special needs. Figuring out that first 10% is definitely not mine, I’ve also realised the other 90% is still for Gods use, be that in buying clothes to dress me, fuelling my car, or giving a donation to help a new born baby in Africa have life saving surgery – it’s all God’s use, because I am God’s!!!

It’s because of all this that I felt pretty angry leaving that budget meeting last Sunday. I don’t want to get in trouble, but I felt really let down by the congregation of my church. In a church of about 400 members we only just got 55 to the meeting. The budget for 2006/07 needs each individual to give small amount a week in their offerings, yet we are not meeting that now! I feel people don’t want to own the things we are doing at church, and that I know I’m giving much more than that budget meeting amount which means there are people out there giving nothing at all.

How is it that people come to the church every week, sit and listen to the music, have a coffee afterwards and stand around and chat yet have no inclination to be involved in the work God calls all of us to? We do so much at Whitehill, yet it’s mainly the same people doing it all. Is it those same people that are giving the money as well out of their obedience to God? I think in the very list if you’re not involved in the actual work of the church you can support it by giving your tithe. I feel ripped off if the people doing the hard work are also the only ones paying for it.

I guess that is harsh, but I feel justified in the fact that it is a Biblical command, and while I’m following that command the church body is suffering because people aren’t.

The question is. Is the church providing an easy out for people by meeting their consumerist needs, giving them the ability to do nothing but sit in a service and feel they meet everything they need to be a proper Christian? Can the Western church change to a more community, servant based style which gives the ownership of work to all members somehow, which in turn encourages them to give their tithe to support the work?

I have no answers, only questions and confusion. So I don’t know if it’s right to post this up or not, but I’d love to hear some peoples ideas and experiences on this topic. Money is not the be all and end all of the church, and sometimes I shudder at how much we spend on certain things, yet I get this feeling this church should have so much money because of the people giving, yet it just doesn’t.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post, deano. I think what you've said here, is probably true of practically EVERY church, and therefore the worldwide church as a whole. Infact, could it be that it is true of western human nature in general?

At our church on Sunday night, a high-school aged mission team reported back on their recent mission to the remote villages in Vanuatu. The villagers have nothing, and yet they were SO willing to share what little they DID have. One girl said she commented to a lady over there that she liked her dress...so the lady went and got changed, and gave this girl her dress (and for her to refuse it would have been very offensive)...she felt so bad for 'trying' to be nice. These people have nothing compared to us, and yet they're willing to give it freely.

How sad is it that we, who live in comparative wealth, are so precious about every cent...or worse, we waste it on too many useless restaurant meals and movies etc and then claim that we are "too poor" to give to God's work.

Jarrol said...

i would say it's more a Western Church, thing (in the western world as you said)

because like your story I've found most 3rd world churches are giving so much, out of the absolute little they have.

Gareth Williams said...

I wonder if, because everything is so easy for us, it's easy to join a church and just consume, the same way we do everything else.
Then if we're challenged too much it's so easy to go to another church, without committing to anyone.
It's good to hear of your giving, it shows that some people are listening to God. So keep giving!

Jarrol said...

Yeh I hope my mentioning my giving didn't sound to self-centered and boastful

It's something I've learnt, it's a part of my life now, and honestly i only mentioned it to share how through an act God can teach you so much.

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