Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Contrarian View From the Pew: The Wrong Model

God created people to act and react in certain ways. Our own sins and the sins of others prevent us from ever experiencing all of what God intended. Communities of believers should be more of a reflection of God’s intentions than communities that are a mix of believers and non-believers or communities that are completely non-believers. We will never be free from sin completely, but believers should be noticeably different from non-believers.

Perhaps one of the reasons Churches don’t seem to be much different than the other world communities is because Christian Churches have been using a wrong model for ministry. We have been operating with a severe handicap. Maybe Christianity has misinterpreted the description in the Acts of the Apostles of new believers selling their possessions and sharing the proceeds. Perhaps selling and sharing is a good idea for individuals, but a bad idea for the Church.

The socialism model that has proven to be an utter failure for governments around the world appears to be as equally pathetic in most Churches. The idea that believers can just throw money into a big pot and then let some wise Pastor or Elder Board decide the best way to allocate scarce contributions may be just as foolish as the idea to let a wise Dictator of a State government decide the best way to allocate scarce resources. My entire life I’ve been hearing about how believers need to give more to their Church. Maybe it is the Church, not the believer, who is responsible for the problem.

Perhaps our Churches would benefit greatly if we took advantage of all of the reasons capitalism is such a success. Maybe God didn’t intend for His Church to be socialistic. If God’s plan outside the Church is capitalism, why should it be different inside the Church? In a future post, I will describe some new ways this could work inside our Churches.

8 comments:

Jennifer said...

Great post! My dad's family was of the Appalachian Apostolic kind of faith, and they literally combined everyone's incomes then split it amongst the members according to need. I could talk forever about why this is a bad idea. Personally, I have always felt that "giving a tenth" to God doesn't necessarily mean giving it to the church. Of course, I caught a lot of flack for that belief, growing up in the Baptist church! Looking forward to the next post.

David M. Smith said...

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer. It’s been kind of lonely this week. ; -(

I imagined a lot of rolling eyes when I wrote this, even if I haven’t gotten a rolling eyes comment yet.

Teresa said...

You all know that I am not the "typical" church mindset, but that idea is biblical. Sharing one-anothers incomes, things, time, talents and treasures IS supposed to "BE" "the CHURCH. The problem is, what we've MADE church to be. Church is not a building, programs, staff, and all of that stuff. I don't know if you all know this, but the typical church budget spends more than 80-90% on the support of the building, staff salaries and programs within the church walls. That is the problem! If the church followed the model that we are supposed to go by, they would not have salaries and buildings and even programs to support. Our church does not have membership--we are the body of Christ-- and only about 10% of our "budget", of which we tore up, goes to "things" such as materials...Our money goes to the community and outside the church walls. And Jennifer, we should be giving way more than a 10th, that is only the beginning. We should give the tenth to our "local" body and then whatever else the Lord has blessed us with to others in need. The problem is "where" the 10th goes--it "should" go to help others within the body that have need and then others in the community etc...

Teresa said...

I guess that was your rolling eyes comment, David, well sort of.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Teresa,

Good comment and good point. However, I don’t know how to have “an organization” without “organization”. Some buildings, staff, and administrative costs are just a part of life. Trying to do church without some infrastructure would not be very effective.

In my next post, I will discuss what I believe to be a Biblical tithe. I have already written about how categorizing “giving” and “spending” is not a proper way to separate what is being done for God and what is being done for self.

I would much rather see money spent on a person than wasted on a building. Likewise, I would rather see money spent on a building than wasted on a person. It is possible to give 100% of your income away and do more harm than good. It is also possible to do more good by spending 1% than giving 100%. I think 10% is a good yardstick, but the most important factor is the cause, not how it makes the giver feel.

Now put those eyes back where they belong!

Jennifer said...

Teresa - I totally agree with you about the 10% part. That is as low as the bar goes, biblically, but it was never meant to be the goal.

Teresa said...

OK, I'll read you next post before a freak out, but honestly David, I don't understand your last paragraph.

David M. Smith said...

Hi Teresa,

Maybe I could explain if I knew where to start. What is it that you don’t understand?